The Power of Pattern Language: Building Projects with Patterns

Companion Page to the talk at EuroIA 2020
Dave Hora, September 23, 2020
  1. Core Ideas
  2. Project Pattern Language - Demo
  3. Resources & References
  4. Retrospective: Producing a pre-recorded conference video

Core Ideas

The goal of this talk was to convey some of the elegance of the abstract idea of pattern languages, and hint at the structure and depth encoded into the canonical A Pattern Language book. I want us to look at how we might use this thinking in our own work, and will show an example of doing so with a user research pattern language.

First, I try to distinguish three major concepts:

Next, I discuss that how a pattern language works in architecture can be translated to our own field.

Finally, I touch on an example of how we might do this, using patterns in the Research Skills Framework to sequence a project pattern language for a user research project.

Project Pattern Language - Demo

Imagine we're taking on an experience mapping project for a large European railway. This is the case study  we quickly reviewed  in the talk.

The worked example:
Foundations of this approach:

Pattern Resources & Talk References

Christopher Alexander:

Ryan Singer's livestream (31 July 2020):

Hajo Neis' chapter detailing types of languages:

Takashi Iba's work with Pattern Language:

Communities and Programs to explore:

Stefan Tietke's Arch+ Article with GraphViz of A Pattern Language

Jeff Johnson & Austin Henderson on Conceptual Models

Retrospective: Producing a pre-recorded conference talk


Pre-recording a talk was difficult. Physical to digital is a far easier transition than live to pre-recorded. I did not expect the amount of energy that normally comes from having an audience—in any venue of delivery—and how difficult it would be to stare at a camera, alone, in an empty room.

From a process perspective, I took a risk in attempting to produce a real "video talk," instead of developing a standard slide deck and recording myself presenting the slides. Working in a new medium upset a number of standard ways of working I'd become comfortable with—the process was meandering and uncertain, not simple, smooth, and uncomplicated. In this aspect of the work, creating a compelling video presentation, I found the great gap between what I hoped to achieve, and what I was able to produce. That said, a sensitivity to that gap lights the direction forward, and I know there's a huge new realm of possibility opening before me.

Areas for improvement:
Things to continue:
Other lessons: