Software Patterns Exhibit Positive Network Effects

I’ve just wrapped up work on a patterns article. While doing the analysis with my co-authors (an co-workers) Ade Miller and Wojtek Kozaczynski I wondered about the connection between software patterns and Metcalfe’s Law.

By the way, if you’re interested in reading about how Metcalfe came up with the ideas that ultimately led to Ethernet read Michael Hiltzik’s book; you will thank me later.

Clearly the more people know about patterns, the better you can communicate with them (since instead of waving hands you would say Decorator, Broker or Service-Oriented Decomposition). Regardless of whether the growth is quadratic or not, the value of patterns increases with the number of people who use them. Stated otherwise, patterns exhibit positive network effects.

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