January 21st, 2009
SpoolCast: Achieving Pattern and Component Reuse with Nathan Curtis
Recorded: December, 2008.
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
Duration: 28m | File size: 16MB
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Dealing with real-life web app production isn’t as glamorous as some aspects of design in the digital realm, but it is full of challenges and can honestly make or break a project. There are ways of truly optimizing certain aspects of the production so that you can create a product with consistent quality at a faster pace. To find out how, I turned to Nathan Curtis.
Nathan Curtis is a principal and co-founder of Eight Shapes in Washington, D.C., where he is spearheading research into design patterns and component libraries. Eight Shapes turns out great work in the UX and IA realms, with some impressive clients.
In our discussion, Nathan and I first defined design pattern libraries and component libraries. A pattern library is a repository for ideas and solutions to design interaction problems. Component libraries are comprised of actual functioning parts with real code. An example would be a log-in process. Your pattern would define the experience of logging into your application, from the interaction, and often visual standpoint. Your component would be the chunk of code that represents the set of fields and controls that can be replicated across your organization’s web properties, so that you can easily create a consistent experience for your users, no matter where they may enter your system.
You can see just from this one example that if you’re designing even a moderately large site, having repositories like these can save you tremendous production time. You can multiply those savings if you have multiple teams working on different portions of the same property. Each team doesn’t need to invent their own wheels and engineer them from scratch.
We go into more detail in the podcast and also compare these to style guides, which were the first step toward this idea—one that is too often broken, over restrictive, and simply ignored. Tune in to hear how pattern and component libraries can help you avoid these traps.
Nathan will teach us much more about how to build out your own library of reusable patterns and components in a full-day seminar at our Web App Summit, coming April 2009 to Newport Beach, California. You won’t want to miss it.
Have you employed a pattern or component library in your projects? What experiences can you share? Please let us know in the comments.Tweet