Design Patterns in VB.NET - Guide to Further Reading
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Published: 11 Jul 2006
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Abstract
This article gives you an approach to reading about design patterns elsewhere, mainly focusing on how to make good use of the GoF book, recommending how to read it and what parts to concentrate on. Guides you in reading through interpretations of the design patterns from other authors.
by David Simmonds
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Reading the GoF book

I do not consider this tutorial to be the end-all of design patterns.  Instead, I would like to consider it (and for it to be considered) as a VB.NET companion to the GOF book.  The fact that you are reading this tutorial means that you know VB.NET quite well.  The ideal situation is that you are also technically very gifted, know C++ very well and have lots of time on your hands.  In that case, read the GoF book from cover to cover and then read this tutorial.  

Assuming you know little C++, have limited time and do not like nitty-gritty stuff, then you can take one of several alternative approaches:

·         Read chapter 1 of the GoF book, then read this tutorial.

or

·         Read the whole GoF book (Chapter 2 is of questionable value and in my 2 ½ reads I never made it through that chapter), skip the C++ sample code in each pattern, and then read this tutorial (recommended for VB.NET developers).

or

·         Read a C++ Tutorial or book.  Read Chapter 1 of the GoF book and then for each pattern read the GoF version of the pattern (including C++ Sample Code) and the version from this tutorial.  This is the approach recommended for lead VB.NET developers (or those who want to lead soon).

Now whatever you do, try to get a copy of the GoF book before you read this tutorial.  I am serious!!!  I cannot be responsible for any trivialization, misinterpretation or any general misguided thoughts which come about from reading this tutorial without the book as a jumping off point.  This tutorial is not meant to teach you design patterns; it is meant ONLY for people who understand the concepts and principles explored by the GoF and want to see how to implement them in VB.NET.  So in reality, it is only meant to “replace” the sample code sections for each pattern.  Even if you do not know C++, it is best if you take a quick refresher or read a quick C++ primer and then struggle through the C++ sample code because in some instances interface or variable/class scope issues will probably get lost in translation.  I am not sounding this disclaimer so I can abdicate my responsibility for doing a good job.  Not at all, I want this tutorial to be well read and quoted because I spent a significant number of months of my life dedicated to deepening my knowledge of VB.NET and learning Design patterns so I could get to a point where I could even attempt to write a tutorial on the subject of Design Patterns in VB.NET.

But let me ask you a question (and I apologize for the inappropriate comparison). Would you try to replace The Bible with books by T.D. Jakes or Joyce Meyers?  No!  In the case of GoF-design patterns, this book was written by four PhDs over several years after reading close to 100 books.  Can I replace that?  Most definitely not and I refuse to try!  So again, if you have not yet picked up a copy of the book, go get it.  This tutorial is intended for people who want to learn the subject properly because it deserves to be learnt well.

So having gotten the GoF book, this is how I recommend you read it along with this tutorial:

 

·         Read Chapter 1 contemplatively (especially page 14 onwards) – “Specifying Object Implementations.”  This is very necessary since their use of Static Structure Diagrams is a shade different from what you will probably see in Visio.

·         Read all of chapters 3, 4 and 5.

·         For each pattern in Chapters 3, 4 and 5

1.      Study the Intent slowly and purposely, memorize it.

2.      Read the Motivation carefully – get all you reasonably can from it.

3.      Examine the UMLs closely and study them.

4.      Read Applicability twice, but skim more or less because it is more for reference.  In other words, later on when you are actually implementing patterns, you should come back to check both the intent and the applicability to see if it is the right pattern to use.

5.      Study and scrutinize the Participants closely, making reference to the UMLs.

6.      Study Collaborations very closely - this is the 3rd most important thing.

7.      Partly skim and read the Consequences.  Anything which sticks, commit to memory; anything which does not, come back again when you are in the middle of implementing the pattern to figure out how to make the trade-offs described in this section.

8.      Examine the UMLs closely one more time.

9.      The Implementation tells you how language issues affect the pattern and how to extend it and jazz it up.  This is more useful later when implementing the pattern in your design.

10.  As far as Sample Code is concerned, if you know C++ well then dive right in, otherwise read the pattern in my VB.NET tutorial.  If you want an in between approach, then see my quick and dirty C++ to VB.NET CORGI.  Further along the road to independence, you could always pick up a good book or tutorial on C++.

11.  Known Uses.  I do not know how valuable this is.  This is my opinion and I am sticking to it.  It is of some academic interest and I guess it does help to convince you that the pattern is useful since it is incorporated into serious systems.

12.  Related Patterns-  Treat this like Applicability.  You will get more out of the Related Patterns section when you know all the patterns in that section.  Maybe you can take this more seriously on your second (and hopefully much less confusing) reading of the book.

13.  For further reinforcement of the pattern, see my recommendations in terms of reading sources – I recommend the top reading sources for that pattern.

·         Read Chapter 6 contemplatively.

Now do not pounce on me because I told you to skip this chapter or skim that section.  By the third reading, you should be ready to read every juicy detail of the GoF book and glean every morsel of wisdom from it.  I am just recommending this reading strategy because the book can be a very dense read.  So this strategy will help you actually make it through the first reading with minimum drag.

 


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