Cover by Steve McConnell

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Design Building Blocks: Heuristics

Software developers tend to like our answers cut and dried: "Do A, B, and C, and X, Y, Z will follow every time." We take pride in learning arcane sets of steps that produce desired effects, and we become annoyed when instructions don't work as advertised. This desire for deterministic behavior is highly appropriate to detailed computer programming, where that kind of strict attention to detail makes or breaks a program. But software design is a much different story.

Because design is nondeterministic, skillful application of an effective set of heuristics is the core activity in good software design. The following subsections describe a number of heuristics—ways to think about a design that sometime produce good ...

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