Head First Design Patterns

by EricFreeman & Elisabeth Freeman with Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates

October 2004

Series: OreillyAndAssociates' Head First

ISBN 0-596-00712-4


Jolt Award for 2005, General Book Category

"Your Brain on Design Patterns"

Review blurb inside:
"I feel like a thousand pounds of books have just been lifted off of my head." -- WardCunningham

An acknowledgment inside from the authors:
"We are also indebted to Ward Cunningham and the patterns community who created the Portland Pattern Repository [PortlandPatternRepository]--an indespensible [sic] resource for us in writing this book."

A good book on patterns. It is more of a tutorial or a class text than a reference, but it is still very, very, very good for explaining the patterns in the DesignPatternsBook (which should be your reference). -- JimmyCerra

I bought this book just a few days ago because I'm a sucker for corny retro pics and fonts--and because I wanted to learn about DesignPatterns without popping for GangOfFour. Although it's O'Reilly, it's not an AnimalBook because of its entirely different cover, size, and game plan. As you flip through it you might think it looks like a Dummies book, but it's not ForDummies. Rather, it assumes the reader is "wickedly smart" and has quite a thorough grounding in JavaLanguage (from OreillyAndAssociates' HeadFirstJava? book, in fact). The examples are all in Java, and it compares rolling your own pattern implementations with using the classes and interfaces in Java's standard library. A couple characters, Mary and Sue, seem to be PairProgramming the pattern solutions.

Given that the person who invented the Head First format (Kathy Sierra) is a trainer at SunMicrosystems, I wonder if all books in O'Reilly's Head First series will be JavaLanguage books.

The book is unusually chick-centric. First, there's a geek chick on the cover. Then it seems that at least half the developer characters in the book, including the Guru, are young WomenProgrammers. The reader is encouraged several times to eat chocolate while reading. Some of the old, retro photos are of gals working in kitchens at home, and "Ready-bake Code" is supplied. A Sweater Girl thinks how "dreamy" this would be and how "dreamy" that would be. Well, you get the idea. So I wonder, compared with other O'Reilly books, what proportion of the people who buy this book are gals. Maybe instead I should ask what proportion of the readers who stick with the book are gals, considering the eye-catching babe on the cover could skew purchases toward guys. -- ElizabethWiethoff

Then again, the book may be targeted at the "I support feminisim and all that but I'm a guy and I don't know how" geeks out there. I think anyone interested in the babe on the cover would just download porn and be done with it. On a side note, I like to eat chocolate (pure, about 70%) but not while reading because I hate chocolate smudges on the pages.--AalbertTorsius

I'd still get GangOfFour. The DesignPatternsBook is such a great reference, and it provides a clear view of the BigPicture (that other pattern books never approach for some odd reason). -- JC

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback. This site was a huge part of the research that went into the book.

Elizabeth, as to your interesting comments on the book being "chick centric" - you're reading just a little more into things that we ever thought about. For instance the "chick" on the cover was chosen by a contest on JavaRanch, although we did rather like that the guru is a woman (she was also the best graphic we had). So while we'd love to say it was meant to be chick centric from some perspective, I think Elisabeth and I just tried to provide some male/female balance in the characters. In terms of the retro pics, all the Head First authors (us, along with Kathy and Bert) are suckers for 50s retro and the women are just as they were portrayed at the time, of course we're doing all this with a BIG "wink wink" and expect readers to have a sense of humor (and there are a few that don't!). ;)

Also, the series is not meant to be JavaLanguage centic at all, in fact a new title is coming before Christmas that is not based on Java (HTML & CSS).

And on the GangOfFour recommendation - that is always how we intended our book to be read (before or concurrent with the GangOfFour).

- EricFreeman

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