Head First Design Patterns

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You're not alone.

At any given moment, somewhere in the world someone struggles with the same software design problems you have. You know you don't want to reinvent the wheel (or worse, a flat tire), so you look to Design Patterns—the lessons learned by those who've faced the same problems. With Design Patterns, you get to take advantage of the best practices and experience of others, so that you can spend your time on...something else. ...

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You're not alone.

At any given moment, somewhere in the world someone struggles with the same software design problems you have. You know you don't want to reinvent the wheel (or worse, a flat tire), so you look to Design Patterns—the lessons learned by those who've faced the same problems. With Design Patterns, you get to take advantage of the best practices and experience of others, so that you can spend your time on...something else. Something more challenging. Something more complex. Something more fun.

You want to learn about the patterns that matter—why to use them, when to use them, how to use them (and when NOT to use them). But you don't just want to see how patterns look in a book, you want to know how they look "in the wild". In their native environment. In other words, in real world applications. You also want to learn how patterns are used in the Java API, and how to exploit Java's built-in pattern support in your own code.

You want to learn the real OO design principles and why everything your boss told you about inheritance might be wrong (and what to do instead). You want to learn how those principles will help the next time you're up a creek without a design pattern.

Most importantly, you want to learn the "secret language" of Design Patterns so that you can hold your own with your co-worker (and impress cocktail party guests) when he casually mentions his stunningly clever use of Command, Facade, Proxy, and Factory in between sips of a martini. You'll easily counter with your deep understanding of why Singleton isn't as simple as it sounds, how the Factory is so often misunderstood, or on the real relationship between Decorator, Facade and Adapter.

With Head First Design Patterns, you'll avoid the embarrassment of thinking Decorator is something from the "Trading Spaces" show. Best of all, in a way that won't put you to sleep! We think your time is too important (and too short) to spend it struggling with academic texts.

If you've read a Head First book, you know what to expect—a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works. Using the latest research in neurobiology, cognitive science, and learning theory, Head First Design Patterns will load patterns into your brain in a way that sticks. In a way that lets you put them to work immediately. In a way that makes you better at solving software design problems, and better at speaking the language of patterns with others on your team.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If there’s one subject that needs to be taught better, needs to be more fun to learn, it’s design patterns. Thank goodness for Head First Design Patterns.

From the awesome Head First Java folks, this book uses every conceivable trick to help you understand and remember. Not just loads of pictures: pictures of humans, which tend to interest other humans. Surprises everywhere. Stories, because humans love narrative. (Stories about things like pizza and chocolate. Need we say more?) Plus, it’s darned funny.

It also covers an enormous swath of concepts and techniques, including nearly all the patterns you’ll use most (observer, decorator, factory, singleton, command, adapter, façade, template method, iterator, composite, state, proxy). Read it, and those won’t be “just words”: they’ll be memories that tickle you, and tools you own. Bill Camarda, from the January 2005 Read Only

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596007126
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/22/2004
  • Series: Head First Series
  • Pages: 678
  • Sales rank: 118,103
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Freeman is a computer scientist with a passion for media and software architectures and coauthor of Head First Design Patterns. He just wrapped up four years at a dream job— directing internet broadband and wireless efforts at Disney—and is now back to writing, creating cool software, and hacking Java and Macs.
Eric spent a lot of the '90s working on alternatives to the desktop metaphor with David Gelernter (and they're both still asking the question, "Why do I have to give a file a name?"). Based on this work, Eric landed a Ph.D. at Yale University in 1997. He also co-founded Mirror Worlds Technologies (now acquired) to create a commercial version of his thesis work, Lifestreams.

In a previous life, Eric built software for networks and supercomputers. You might know him from such books as JavaSpaces Principles Patterns and Practice. Eric has fond memories of implementing tuple-space systems on Thinking Machine CM-5s and creating some of the first internet information systems for NASA in the late 1980s.

When he's not writing text or code you'll find him spending more time tweaking than watching his home theater and trying to restore a circa 1980s Dragon's Lair video game. He also wouldn't mind moonlighting as an electronica DJ.

Write to him at eric at wickedlysmart dot com or visit him at http://www.ericfreeman.com .

Elisabeth Robson (formerly Freeman) is coauthor of O'Reilly's Head First Design Patterns and Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML. She is currently Special Projects Director at O'Reilly where she is developing new brain-friendly learning ideas and products.

Bert Bates is a 20-year software developer, a Java instructor, and a co-developer of Sun's upcoming EJB exam (Sun Certified Business Component Developer). His background features a long stint in artificial intelligence, with clients like the Weather Channel, A&E Network, Rockwell, and Timken.

Kathy Sierra has been interested in learning theory since her days as a game developer (Virgin, MGM, Amblin'). More recently, she's been a master trainer for Sun Microsystems, teaching Sun's Java instructors how to teach the latest technologies to customers, and a lead developer of several Sun certification exams. Along with her partner Bert Bates, Kathy created the Head First series. She's also the original founder of the Software Development/Jolt Productivity Award-winning javaranch.com, the largest (and friendliest) all-volunteer Java community.

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Table of Contents

Praise for Head First Design Patterns

More Praise for Head First Design Patterns

Praise for the Head First approach

Authors/Developers of Head First Design Patterns

Creators of the Head First series (and co-conspirators on this book)

How to Use This Book: Intro

Chapter 1: Intro to Design Patterns: Welcome to Design Patterns

Chapter 2: The Observer Pattern: Keeping your Objects in the know

Chapter 3: The Decorator Pattern: Decorating Objects

Chapter 4: The Factory Pattern: Baking with OO Goodness

Chapter 5: The Singleton Pattern: One of a Kind Objects

Chapter 6: The Command Pattern: Encapsulating Invocation

Chapter 7: The Adapter and Facade Patterns: Being Adaptive

Chapter 8: The Template Method Pattern: Encapsulating Algorithms

Chapter 9: The Iterator and Composite Patterns: Well-Managed Collections

Chapter 10: The State Pattern: The State of Things

Chapter 11: The Proxy Pattern: Controlling Object Access

Chapter 12: Compound Patterns: Patterns of Patterns

Chapter 13: Better Living with Patterns: Patterns in the Real World

Leftover Patterns


Head First Institute

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 2, 2012

    I picked up Head First Design Patterns by Eric Freeman, Elisabet

    I picked up Head First Design Patterns by Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra while working through some particularly difficult design/code reviews. In these reviews, I found that very few developers actually knowingly use design patterns beyond the most simplistic of forms. In fact, during several interviews, I asked candidates what design patterns they could name and most could not name a single one. However, when I asked them if they had heard of the Singleton Pattern, they immediately began giving examples of writing code to meet this pattern. With this discovery, I quickly began recommending this book to java developers of all levels as a way to renew why we design code the way we do.

    Head First Design Patterns quickly gives the reader exposure to some of the most common patterns and why they work. Does this book cover every possible pattern and the intricacies in its use? No. However, it brings to the reader a mode of thought that begins to look at design patterns as a way to solve common problems without “reinventing the wheel.” The examples are relatively simple to understand and the writing style straightforward and logic in its flow.

    I recommend Head First Design Patterns to any entry through advanced level developer or designer in the object-oriented world that desires to find a solution to common problems in a way that allows your design/code reviewer and maintainers the ability to understand why the design/code was “done” the way that is was “done” in a less-than-four-hour line-by-line review meeting.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Well-made Introduction

    This book is a nicely written introduction to software design patterns that is easy to read. Any level of developer will benefit from reading this book at least once. There seem to be a few good lessons about software design embedded in the material. By paying attention to the themes of the lessons, readers can learn a lot about software design in general as well as build up knowledge of common solutions to common problems.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Overall a good book to learn patterns, in my opinion.

    I recently got a copy of Head First Patterns, a book by Eric Freeman and Elisabeth Freeman. This is the very first (and so far, only) Head-First book I have read, so am not sure if this is the standard format for this book series. I was given this book to review, and hence received a free copy, with no obligation to provide a favorable impression. I actually read it on Safari first, and then got a hard-copy.

    The reading experience feels more like taking a "Patterns 101" course. The book is rather thick but sparse due to the space taken up by pictures and blank areas, so don't be put off by the bulk. The book has zen-ish conversation pieces, Principles explained with cute diagrams, exercises, challenge questions, even crossword puzzles. It is organized into chapters that teach a pattern or two each, and covers a reasonable number of design patterns overall. The patterns are summarized yet again, in the "Bullet Points" section. There are "Design Toolbox" sections that define the pattern at hand, and show the OO Principles at work, for that pattern. I especially like the way patterns are explained here. Most chapters start with an every-day example. The "Decorator" pattern is explained using a coffee-shop chain, the "Factory" pattern is explained using a pizza factory and so on. It is not easy to find simple, concrete occurrences and build complex and abstract concepts based on them. The authors have walked that tight-rope well. Each chapter starts simple but by the end of it you know a lot about the pattern, including its definition and the UML diagram that models it. The book emphasizes good OO principles, a must for a book on software design in my opinion.

    There are however, a few content and stylistic aspects that may put this book at a disadvantage. They convey a sense of overreaching attempts to make the book informal and fun e.g. two Tables of Content (A summary and one, and "The Real Thing"), choice of font that resembles handwriting in many places and so on. A more formal font would have been a better choice for the body as well as margin notes. Similarly, setting code lines at an angle, pasted like refrigerator poetry in the section on "code magnets" does injustice to the holy grail of code: structure, clarity and precision.

    Overall, I think the book is a good choice for someone looking for "Patterns 101". By the way, in my opinion there is no such thing as "Patterns 102" or higher (since it is all about exposure, and experience, "101" onwards.)If you can get over the empty spaces, cartoon bubbles, and other stylistic quirks, it has solid content that is useful professionally. While it is not necessarily a good buy for someone who already knows their patterns; for someone learning about them from this book for the first time, it would be valuable as a learning tool at first and as a ready reference thereafter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2009

    Great book for beginners

    Great for the beginning object oriented programmer. Comprehensive and flows well. Information is put in a way that makes the learning fun and enjoyable for a self-paced learning book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2005

    First design patterns book that hasn't put me to sleep!

    I think it¿s safe to say that this is the first design patters book I¿ve read that hasn¿t immediately put me to sleep. Don¿t get me wrong, I absolutely believe in the concept of design patterns. It¿s just that most of the books that talk about them are so unbelievably dull, that it¿s hard to not to fall asleep. This book does an amazing job of discussing design patterns, but managed to talk about it in a way that actually made me want to continue reading. The book starts off with probably the best explanation I have read about the difference between inheritance and interfaces, and why to use one over the other. The book proceeds to discuss such patterns as the Factory pattern, Singleton, the Command pattern, the Decorator pattern, the Observer pattern, and the Adaptor pattern to name a few. Be warned, this book may not be for everyone. For example, if you¿re looking for a pattern reference book, you might want to avoid this one. If you¿re looking for a good tutorial so that you can learn patterns for the first time, then this is probably the book you want. Please also note that all examples are provided in Java, but it should be fairly straightforward to translate most of these into your target language. The workbook style of this book as well as the informal writing make this an excellent book to use to learn what patterns are, how to use them, and why you should even care. I would highly recommend this book to someone falling into this category.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2005


    <p>If you're looking to truly understand Design Patterns, and keep them in your head, this is a MUST BUY. <p>No need for detail, this is the best Design Pattern book on the market. It's entertaining and uses a multitude of examples to help keep all the pattern types in your memory. <p>Once done, I recommend what the book recomends: Get more design pattern books. Specifically, you want to maintain an encyclopedia of design patterns from all walks of development. <p>This book will teach you what a design pattern is, how to identify them, and how to use them effectively. It will teach you the most popular ones from the GoF book (plus MVC). It will make you beg for a sequel. :-)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2004

    for new Java programmers

    There have been several successful books in this Head First series. They tackled the learning of Java, EJBs, Servlets and JSPs. By necessity, a fair portion of those books had to deal with teaching the elementary syntax. But suppose you are now programming in Java. It's time to move to more powerful abstractions, called design patterns, and addressed by this book. What the authors have done is take well known patterns, like Observer, Decorator, Factory and Singleton, and explain them in an informal, conversational style. Replete with many diagrams, also informally marked up. Basically, they have taken classic texts on design patterns, like by the Gang of Four, and totally rewritten them in simpler form, to reach a broader audience. Experienced Java programmers who've never dealt with this subject should probably consult those standard texts. But newer programmers might come here.

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