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What Drives Design?



In this presentation held during OOPSLA 2008, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock reviews various forms of driven development in order to understand the principles and values of several design practices used today. By comparing them, a designer will get a broader view over design and will better understand which design practice is more appropriate for him.


Rebecca Wirfs-Brock invented the way of thinking about objects known as Responsibility-Driven Design. She is lead author of the classic Designing Object-Oriented Software, and Object Design: Roles, Responsibilities and Collaborations. She is the design columnist for IEEE Software and past board member of the Agile Alliance.

About the conference

Starting in 1986, OOPSLA Conference has proven to be the cradle of many techniques and methodologies that have become mainstream over the years: OOP, Patterns, AOP, XP, Unit Testing, UML, Wiki, and Refactoring. Gaining its prestige with 3 academic tracks, OOPSLA Conference has managed to attract researchers, educators and developers every year. The event is sponsored by ACM.

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Recorded at:

Jan 24, 2009

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Community comments

  • Requirements?

    by Mileta Cekovic,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Funny, I thought that requirements are the main driving force for the design.
    Author made me fill like I was blind all these years...

    Kidding aside, all these forces author mentions are secondary forces, while requirements should be the primary and the commanding force.

  • Re: Requirements?

    by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Of course requirements drive design, but in this talk I wanted to explore the values and practices that various "driven" methods have, their roots, and what they share in common and where they conflict.

    It is all too simple to say "requirements drive design" and be done with it. What I am constantly amazed at are the myriad different ways people tackle software problems and all those subtle choices they make when crafting their solutions. I think it is good to reflect from time to time on why we do software design the way we do as well as what we personally value. I've just written a blog posting that might spur some discussion on this.

  • Re: Requirements?

    by Ricardo Limon,

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    Curious thing that organizations sometimes missuse the word requirement, making it very difficult to understand the real needs. I have come across too many self acclaimed System Architects that "drive design" by requirement.

  • Design principles

    by Anders Sjöberg,

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    From Rebeccas blog; "But what then drives the way you approach your work?"

    To me it is about implementing the design principles that Robert C Martin writes about in this article; . As he writes in the article I think it will help me create something which is "...flexible, robust, reusable, and developable.".

    Is it a common and clear goal for all of the the design drivers to implement those principles?

  • Re: Design principles

    by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock,

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    I think that most of the people who have advocated xDD approaches and even talk about use of patterns or refactoring techniques are all trying to get at SOLID (or solid) design. They just have different emphasis and also a slightly different set of values. For example, Domain Driven Design from Eric Evans talks a lot about capturing the "ubiquitous" language of the domain and representing it in domain objects. While Robert Martin's principles lead you more towards well-structured organizations of objects and good use of inheritance and interfaces.

    Most designers and design approaches I know wouldn't argue much w/ Martin's principles.

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