From Vernacular to Rational Design in Software Engineering

Consequences of the designer’s changing role
  • Paul R. Taylor
Conference paper


Convention dictates that an information discipline matures from an informal shared practice to a defined and repeatable process through the externalisation and formal expression of its underlying theory. This progression is sometimes typified by the emergence of disciplined and professional practice from early forms of vernacular or craft-like work—software engineering evidences this kind of progressive definition over three decades. This paper examines the tension between software engineering’s professionalisation of the software design role—exemplified by the software architect—and its antithesis, the software craftsperson, a characterisation that continues to emerge despite attempts to suppress the reliance on individual skills and abilities through software engineering process. In non-software design disciplines, the professionalisation of design marks a distinct progression from ad hoc unrepeatable, unselfconscious craft to a self-conscious, demarcated type of design found in most forms of engineering. Software engineering has partially failed its attempts to make this transition and this failure undermines the validity of the engineering metaphor and engineering-based process models as a theoretical and practical model of software design. Software methods must acknowledge and find ways of incorporating vernacularism.


Software Engineering Rational Design Software Design Software Architecture Design Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Software EngineeringMonash UniversityCaulfield EastAustralia

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