Pattern-Based Software Dev – Day 1

I got a couple of great surprises this morning on turning up in Manchester for the module starting today.

First up, the lectures were originally timetabled for a 9:30am start, and are now timetabled for 11:00am. That gives me loads of time between arriving in Manchester at 08:00 and starting lectures to eat, get to the library, do any admin stuff that’s easier when I’m onsite and generally chill out before getting started.

Second – I signed up for ‘IBM Patterns for e-Business Applications’, because I wanted to get some Software Engineering coverage as part of my MSc, and there was some coverage of design patterns in the syllabus for this module in 2009. I was in two minds about it, studying something with ‘IBM’ on it didn’t seem entirely right for an academic course.

To my surprise, the course has been re-branded ‘Pattern-Based Software Development’ overnight, and a complete re-write of the lectures has started to appear that appears to focus on understanding and applying some of the GoF design patterns – pretty much the exact course I wanted to take. I’ve studied and applied some of the GoF patterns before, and I’m really looking forward to learning the syllabus and having my work critically reviewed.

As an aside, it looks like the Manchester CS department is completely re-working its taught MSc Advanced Computer Science proposition, organising the taught modules into ‘pathways’ like Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing. Looks like a good move to me, helpful for students choosing modules.

The lecture material introduced the Strategy, State, Proxy and Item Description patterns. The first three are pretty well known, but it’s the first time I’ve come across the last one.

Coursework material involves UML Class diagrams and designing a system to solve a loosely defined business problem. Unfortunately, it seems that good UML tools are tough to find. After a few days of battling working with the Eclipse project’s UML2 plugin I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t much like it for simple diagramming. I’ve tried a few other tools with limited success, just a couple left to try. It might be you do have to pay $$$ to get a good one – but we’ll see.

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