Recap: Chicago IxDA's Pattern Library conversation
16 Oct 2007 - 12:22am
5 years ago
I think all who attended would agree that the first Chicago IxDA event last
Wednesday night was a great success! Many thanks to Manifest Digital for
graciously hosting the event and opening up their wonderful space to us, and
thanks to those who attended and shared your perspective with us. Please
save the date, November 14th, 6:30 pm, location TBD, where we'll be
discussing lessons learned around designing RIAs.
For those who were unable to attend on Wednesday, but are curious
nonetheless, here's a recap:
The topic was pattern libraries, and the format was participatory...and
participate we did.
We started by making a distinction between public libraries (which we all
refer to and appreciate) and home-grown libraries (ones that are created and
utilized within an agency, corporation or solo practice, and are rarely
shared or shown to the public...kudos and thanks to Yahoo for such a rare
We seemed to agree that one could belabor the semantics of what a pattern is
and what a pattern library should be. Questions such as "Are we confusing
pattern with component, pattern library with style guides?" or "Is a
lightbox a pattern or a solution, or is that one and the same?" frequently
arose. It was clear that the creators and utilizers of the home-grown
library must understand its utility and intent, first and foremost.
The impact of bastardizing the term pattern and pattern library on the
broader community is a topic for another event.
One participant aptly pointed out that most of us have our own pattern
libraries stuck in our heads or in our gazillion Visio files... we are
approached with a familiar problem and we often utilize our previous
thinking and solutions to address it. While this makes us individually
consistent, absolutely saves us time, and allows us to spend our energy
innovating on the new challenges on hand, the big burning questions for most
in the room were:
"How do we have a group of people come to a consensus on what should
constitute a pattern?"
"How do we justify the time spent in creating the resource?"
"Does this need to be tied back to code to be efficient?"
"How do we institutionalize its use? Here you create this thing... does it
die the minute you look the other way?"
"Should an agency have one? How would that work across clients? Could it be
high-level enough to be useful?"
It's clear that people are interested in this, but it feels like we want to
see its utility proven out past just the creation of the library. I would
love to hear about the successes and challenges Yahoo has faced with their
non-public facing library. Sounds like a great conference topic to me!
thanks again, and see you in November!
PS. We're working through how Chicago and other local groups will post and
share event outcomes in a more public way, so once we have something stable
in place, we will share resources there.