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In software engineering, an anti-pattern (or antipattern) is a design pattern that appears obvious but is ineffective or far from optimal in practice.[1][2]

The term was coined in 1995 by Andrew Koenig,[3] inspired by Gang of Four's book Design Patterns, which developed the concept of design patterns in the software field. The term was widely popularized three years later by the book AntiPatterns, which extended the use of the term beyond the field of software design and into general social interaction. According to the authors of the latter, there must be at least two key elements present to formally distinguish an actual anti-pattern from a simple bad habit, bad practice, or bad idea:

  • Some repeated pattern of action, process or structure that initially appears to be beneficial, but ultimately produces more bad consequences than beneficial results, and
  • A refactored solution that is clearly documented, proven in actual practice and repeatable.

Often pejoratively named with clever oxymoronic neologisms, many anti-pattern ideas amount to little more than mistakes, rants, unsolvable problems, or bad practices to be avoided if possible. Sometimes called pitfalls or dark patterns, this informal use of the term has come to refer to classes of commonly reinvented bad solutions to problems. Thus, many candidate anti-patterns under debate would not be formally considered anti-patterns.

By formally describing repeated mistakes, one can recognize the forces that lead to their repetition and learn how others have refactored themselves out of these broken patterns.


[edit] Known anti-patterns

[edit] Organizational anti-patterns

  • Analysis paralysis: Devoting disproportionate effort to the analysis phase of a project
  • Cash cow: A profitable legacy product that often leads to complacency about new products
  • Design by committee: The result of having many contributors to a design, but no unifying vision
  • Escalation of commitment: Failing to revoke a decision when it proves wrong
  • Management by perkele: Authoritarian style of management with no tolerance for dissent
  • Moral hazard: Insulating a decision-maker from the consequences of his or her decision.
  • Mushroom management: Keeping employees uninformed and misinformed (kept in the dark and fed manure)
  • Stovepipe: A structure that supports mostly up-down flow of data but inhibits cross organizational communication
  • Vendor lock-in: Making a system excessively dependent on an externally supplied component[4]

[edit] Project management anti-patterns

  • Death march: Everyone knows that the project is going to be a disaster – except the CEO. However, the truth remains hidden and the project is artificially kept alive until the Day Zero finally comes ("Big Bang"). Alternative definition: Employees are pressured to work late nights and weekends on a project with an unreasonable deadline.
  • Groupthink: During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking.
  • Smoke and mirrors: Demonstrating how unimplemented functions will appear
  • Software bloat: Allowing successive versions of a system to demand ever more resources

[edit] Analysis anti-patterns

  • Bystander apathy: When a requirement or design decision is wrong, but the people who notice this do nothing because it affects a larger number of people.

[edit] Software design anti-patterns

[edit] Object-oriented design anti-patterns

  • Anemic Domain Model: The use of domain model without any business logic which is not OOP because each object should have both attributes and behaviors
  • BaseBean: Inheriting functionality from a utility class rather than delegating to it
  • Call super: Requiring subclasses to call a superclass's overridden method
  • Circle-ellipse problem: Subtyping variable-types on the basis of value-subtypes
  • Circular dependency: Introducing unnecessary direct or indirect mutual dependencies between objects or software modules
  • Constant interface: Using interfaces to define constants
  • God object: Concentrating too many functions in a single part of the design (class)
  • Object cesspool: Reusing objects whose state does not conform to the (possibly implicit) contract for re-use
  • Object orgy: Failing to properly encapsulate objects permitting unrestricted access to their internals
  • Poltergeists: Objects whose sole purpose is to pass information to another object
  • Sequential coupling: A class that requires its methods to be called in a particular order
  • Yo-yo problem: A structure (e.g., of inheritance) that is hard to understand due to excessive fragmentation

[edit] Programming anti-patterns

  • Accidental complexity: Introducing unnecessary complexity into a solution
  • Action at a distance: Unexpected interaction between widely separated parts of a system
  • Blind faith: Lack of checking of (a) the correctness of a bug fix or (b) the result of a subroutine
  • Boat anchor: Retaining a part of a system that no longer has any use
  • Busy spin: Consuming CPU while waiting for something to happen, usually by repeated checking instead of messaging
  • Caching failure: Forgetting to reset an error flag when an error has been corrected
  • Cargo cult programming: Using patterns and methods without understanding why
  • Coding by exception: Adding new code to handle each special case as it is recognized
  • Error hiding: Catching an error message before it can be shown to the user and either showing nothing or showing a meaningless message
  • Expection handling: (From Exception + Expect) Using a language's error handling system to implement normal program logic
  • Hard code: Embedding assumptions about the environment of a system in its implementation
  • Lava flow: Retaining undesirable (redundant or low-quality) code because removing it is too expensive or has unpredictable consequences[5][6]
  • Loop-switch sequence: Encoding a set of sequential steps using a loop over a switch statement
  • Magic numbers: Including unexplained numbers in algorithms
  • Magic strings: Including literal strings in code, for comparisons, as event types etc.
  • Soft code: Storing business logic in configuration files rather than source code[7]
  • Spaghetti code: Systems whose structure is barely comprehensible, especially because of misuse of code structures

[edit] Methodological anti-patterns

[edit] Configuration management anti-patterns

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Budgen, D. (2003). Software design. Harlow, Eng.: Addison-Wesley. pp. 225. ISBN 0-201-72219-4.,M1.  "As described in Long (2001), design anti-patterns are 'obvious, but wrong, solutions to recurring problems'."
  2. ^ Ambler, Scott W. (1998). Process patterns: building large-scale systems using object technology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 4. ISBN 0-521-64568-9.  "...common approaches to solving recurring problems that prove to be ineffective. These approaches are called antipatterns."
  3. ^ Koenig, Andrew (March/April 1995). "Patterns and Antipatterns". Journal of Object-Oriented Programming 8, (1): 46–48. ; was later re-printed in the: Rising, Linda (1998). The patterns handbook: techniques, strategies, and applications. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. pp. 387. ISBN 0-521-64818-1.,M1.  "Anti-pattern is just like pattern, except that instead of solution it gives something thats looks superficially like a solution, but isn't one."
  4. ^ Vendor Lock-In at
  5. ^ Lava Flow at
  6. ^ Undocumented 'lava flow' antipatterns complicate process
  7. ^ Soft Coding

[edit] Further reading

  1. Laplante, Phillip A.; Colin J. Neill (2005). Antipatterns: Identification, Refactoring and Management. Auerbach Publications. ISBN 0-8493-2994-9. 
  2. Brown, William J.; Raphael C. Malveau, Hays W. "Skip" McCormick, Scott W. Thomas, Theresa Hudson (ed). (2000). Anti-Patterns in Project Management. John Wiley & Sons, ltd. ISBN 0-471-36366-9. 

[edit] External links

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