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Anti-Patterns / Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis
by Brown, Malveau, McCormick, and Mowbray

1 edition
March 1998
336 pages

Reviewed by Mark A. Herschberg, April 2002
  (7 of 10)

If you like pattern books, you'll like Anti-Patterns. What is an anti-pattern? It's a design pattern for bad code. Let's face it, we all see plenty of bad code on the job, this book will help you better identify it.

This book, like a pattern book, is a catalog. Each anti-pattern definition is structured like a pattern: Name, Root Causes, Symptoms, Consequences, Anecdotal Evidence, and Refactored Solution. It identifies what the problem is, along with its causes. It goes on to discuss the consequences of the problem and then discusses the refactored solution. As with a pattern definition, it goes into great detail, including such information as exceptional cases. The book contains 3 categories of anti-patterns: software development anti-patterns, software architecture anti-patterns, and project management anti-patterns.

The book itself is easy to read. It's entertaining, too, often written with a tongue in check style. The anecdotal evidence provided for the anti-patterns is something right out of Dilbert, funny and accurate.

The best review I can give is to name some of the anti-patterns from the book: Lava Flow, Golden Hammer, Spaghetti Code, Stovepipe System, Vendor Lock-in, Fire Drill. Like regular design patterns, you probably recognize some of them, but will be able to better identify and apply the knowledge after seeing it formally treated.

Exposure to anti-patterns is just as important as exposure to design patterns. This book is a good introduction to the subject.

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