From metaphors to intelligent patterns : milestones on the road to code re-use
Lemke, Robert William
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Computer applications can be described as largely rigid structures within which an information seeker must navigate in search of information - each screen, each transaction having underlying unique code. The larger the application, the higher the number of lines of code and the larger the size of the application executable. This study suggests an alternative pattern based approach, an approach driven by the information seeker. This alternative approach makes use of value embedded in intelligent patterns to assemble rules and logic constituents, numerous patterns aggregating to form a "virtual screen" based on the need of the information seeker. Once the information need is satisfied, the atomic rules and logic constituents dissipate and return to a base state. These same constituents are available, are reassembled and form the succeeding "virtual screen" to satisfy the following request. Metaphors are used to introduce current information solutions, where events are initiated and driven by physical constructs built using monolithic instruction sets. The metaphor approach is then expanded, illustrating how metaphors can be used to communicate an understanding between two likeminded intellects - this illustrates how spatial artifacts are used to carry intellectual value across the intellectual divide, from the one (intellectual source) to the other (intellectual target). At this point, the pattern based concept is introduced. This is where value, an intellectual appreciation hidden within spatiality, can be exploited towards the delivery of information. The pattern based approach makes use of multiple pattern "instances" to deliver functionality - each pattern instance has a specific embedded value. Numbers of these patterns aggregate to drive the formation of a "virtual screen" built using patterns, each pattern referencing and associating (physical) atomic logic and spatial constituents. This is analogous to painting a picture using removable dots. The dots can be used to describe a fish, and then, once appreciation has been completed, the image is destroyed and the dots are returned to the palette. These same dots can later be reapplied to present the picture of a dog, if that is requested by the information seeker. In both pictures the same "dots" are applied and reused. The form of the fish and dog are retained as value embedded within the patterns, the dots are building blocks aligned using instructions within the patterns. This study classifies existing application solutions as belonging to the Artifact-Pattern-Artifact (APA) group, and the pattern based approach belonging to the Pattern-Artifact-Pattern (PAP) group. An overview and the characteristics of each are presented. The document concludes by presenting the results obtained when using a prototype developed using the PAP approach.