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Head First Design Patterns by Elisabeth & Eric Freeman, Bert Bates & Kathy Sierra

Book Review Team

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 959
<pre>Author/s : Elisabeth A. Freeman, Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra
Publisher : O'Reilly
Category : Design Patterns, UML, and Refactoring
Review by : David O'Meara
Rating : 10 horseshoes
Make sure you read the introduction so that you know what you're getting into, and to realize you're getting into something great. Rather than being a group of books with little real point of difference, the Head First principles - outlined in the introduction - are geared towards presenting real problems and real solutions with real learning. But we're supposed to be talking about Head First Design Patterns.

The list of patterns presented is small compared to other books, but this works well since the coverage is more about learning the basic patterns well with a solid understanding. Also of great value is the way each pattern is taught by presenting common problems with the obvious, but wrong, solutions and then leading you out of the hole you dug and highlighting the important steps towards a better and more maintainable solution.

I was particularly impressed how the presentation of each pattern was built on solid Object Oriented concepts. But rather than assuming you know these advanced concepts, they are integrated into the learning exercise and presented as a cohesive bundle. The book is also structured so it refers back to and reinforces both the pattern and OO lessons as you progress.

It's hard to find real fault with the book. At times it jumps between topics, is repetitive and a bit irreverent, but this is all part of the formula and exactly what is promised.

Beginner or experienced, you better be careful or you might learn something.

More info at
More info at
Mark Spritzler

Joined: Feb 05, 2001
Posts: 17276

I concur with David. I thought I knew design patterns really well, but after reading this book, I gained a bigger and better understanding, and learned more patterns that I really didn't know that well. I also learned where my beliefs about certain patterns before were wrong.

The style of this book, to put things in real world terms that everyone can understand, has opened the world of design patterns for everyone to understand, not just us geeks.

I think all the Head First books are wonderful, but I think this is probably going to be the one of the most important and influencial books about development that has ever been released.

[ November 17, 2004: Message edited by: Mark Spritzler ]

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Eric Freeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 21, 2004
Posts: 33
Thanks to David and Mark. This kind of response makes it all worth while. Thanks also go out to the Javaranch early review team who improved the book in big ways.


[ November 17, 2004: Message edited by: Eric Freeman ]

Co-Author of Head First Design Patterns
Marcos Maia
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 06, 2001
Posts: 977

a great book. I have no words to describe how much I'm learning while reading it. Many thanks to Eric and Elisabeth Freeman for the great book. I also think that the head first strategy will be a big revolution on the way we learn.

I have already expressed all my excitment on this book on thispost.
Shannon Sims
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 197
Purchased the book about a week ago and was so excited to get it. I just finished chapter one and now I know what a Strategy pattern is...pretty cool. So far, the book is great! This is my second purchase of the "HF" series and plan to buy more (waiting for the revised HF Java). The approach taken will keep anyone from dieing of boredom!

Great job!!!
D. Rose
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 25, 2003
Posts: 215
I have just started with first chapter. I have to admit that at first I thought there were too much "distractions" ( I am 'serious' type of person!) but I could not help laughing (I tried hard! "see I have no body!"),thinking while I went on.
I am finding this book entertaining and intriguing!
Weerawit Maneepongsawat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 203
I just ordered the book, I'll read it on next month,
Where i can find errata?


Weerawit<br />SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.2, SCWCD 1.4, SCBCD 1.3, SCBCD 5.0, SCMAD 1.0, SCJA 1.0, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA, SCDJWS 1.5
Jef Cumps
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 14, 2001
Posts: 53
errata will be published on the O'Reilly website. Also see wickedly smart for more book info and source code.
Hai Le

Joined: Sep 22, 2004
Posts: 28
man...!! i ordered this book for 10 days already but i still didn't received it. This book is really good cuz i read apart of it at book store. .

Step one step back to learn more thing..!!<br />Post to learn<br />learn from mistake<br />take whatever i understand...!!!<br /> <br />SCJP 1.4, Brainbench Java 1 & 2.<br />SCWCD 1.4 (preparing...!!)
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
indeed this book is a real gem.
I knew the theory, what the patterns look like (after all, other pattern books bombard you with that constantly).
What I'd missed so far was how and when to best use them (other pattern books don't tell you that).
That's the part this book provides very well indeed.

People always complain about pattern abuse, were more pattern books written with the ideas behind HF Design patterns in mind that abuse would be far less severe.

Sonny Gill
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 1211

Just got it straight from the horse's mouth

Link : - How to Use Design Patterns

Erich Gamma:
When I started teaching it was really boring, because I was just enumerating the patterns. I found it far more interesting to try to motivate with real examples how to apply patterns. In other words, you really need to present the problem in a realistic context´┐Żsynthetic examples do not fly. At OOPSLA I received a Heads First Design Patterns book [see Resources]. It's a great book, not only because it is fun to read but also because they are able to communicate the essence of design patterns in a novel and highly visual way.

The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. - William Gibson
Sonny Gill LinkedIn
Kishore Dandu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 10, 2001
Posts: 1934
Originally posted by Sonny Gill:
Just got it straight from the horse's mouth

Link : - How to Use Design Patterns

nice post thanks.

SCJP, blog
I agree. Here's the link:
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