Patterns in Enterprise Software

In recent years there's been a small but useful growth in describing patterns for the development of enterprise systems. On this page I keep a list of the most notable catalogs on these patterns and some thoughts on the broad interrelationships between them.

There's no formal organization tying these writers together, but we do have a strong informal connection - frequently reviewing each others' work. We've often wondered if we should set up some more organized group, but haven't really summoned up enough energy around it to actually make anything happen. Just writing our own work is quite hard enough!

Different people have different expectations about what patterns are good for and why they are interesting. I described my view of this in a column for IEEE Software.

I'm listing the catalogs here, because these are ones I know at least fairly well and am comfortable with. I don't intend this as a complete list of pattern catalogs in this space.


Here is a list of the main catalogs I find useful.

Patterns of Enterprise Application ArchitectureConcentrates on Enterprise Application Architecture in the context of a layered architecture. Main sections cover domain logic, web presentations, database interaction, offline concurrency (by David Rice) and distribution. Database interaction is the largest section with many patterns on object-relational mapping issues.
Core J2EE PatternsEnterprise Application Architecture patterns in the context of the Java J2EE platform. Although the patterns are focused around the J2EE platform, the patterns are usually equally applicable (albeit with a twist) to other enterprise application platforms.
(Alur, Crupi, and Malks)
Enterprise Integration PatternsI've increasingly come to the view that integration through asynchronous messaging is one of the most effective ways to integrate disparate enterprise applications. EIP is a foundation collection of patterns for this approach.
(Hohpe and Woolf)
Microsoft Enterprise Solution PatternsMicrosoft's first collection of enterprise software patterns. Sections include patterns on Web Presentation, Deployment, and Distributed Systems.
(Trowbridge, Mancini, Quick, Hohpe, Newkirk, and Lavigne)
Microsoft Data PatternsA collection of patterns on data movement: replication and synchronization.
(Teale, Etx, Kiel and Zeitz)
Microsoft Integration PatternsMicrosoft's take on integration patterns. Sections cover strategies for an integration layer, approaches to system connections, and topologies for integration.
(Trowbridge, Roxburgh, Hohpe, Manolescu and Nadhan)
Domain Driven DesignBuilding an object-oriented Domain Model is a popular approach to organizing domain logic. It works particularly well with complex domains. It's downside is that it is difficult to do well. These patterns describe how to think about building and structuring a rich domain model, as well as how to recognize and overcome the real-world obstacles that too-often prevent people from employing the modeling principles they know.
Analysis PatternsSee enough domain models, and you see certain kinds of structures repeatedly. This book was my attempt to capture these commonalities in the form of patterns. In lots of ways it's very much in need of an update, but the basic ideas are still pretty sound. If find this material useful, do make sure you look at the newer supplementary material that I put on my website.
Data Model PatternsCommon patterns in data models. Since these are developed from a very conceptual approach, the patterns are useful for object modeling as well as data modeling.
Gang of FourThe first, and most used, patterns book. These are mostly fundamental patterns which are not specifically for enterprise software development, but the enterprise patterns reference them widely.
(Gamma, Helm, Johnson, and Vlissides)
POSAParticularly influential for its work on architectural patterns. Layers (for enterprise applications) and pipes and filters (for messaging) are foundations for much enterprise patterns work.
(Buschmann, Meunier, Rohnert, Sommerlad, and Stal)

Aspects of Enterprise Software

The catalogs cover various different aspects of enterprise software development. Here's another view of the catalogs, starting from these various aspects.

Enterprise Application Architecture

Enterprise Application is the name I give to a certain class of software systems: the data intensive software systems on which so many businesses run. Another, and perhaps better, name for them is Information Systems since these are systems that process and manipulate information.

Most books on EAA begin by breaking an enterprise application into logical layers. This layering structure then drives other design decisions within and between the layers. As such it's no surprise that patterns tend to be similarly organized through layers. Each author has their own layering structure, but there are recognizable similarities between the layering structures.

It's surprisingly common that people confuse the term Enterprise Architecture with Enterprise Application Architecture. That second A-word is all important. EAA is about building a single application. Enterprise Architecture is a quite different animal.

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

Looks at EAA from a technology independent view.

Core J2EE Patterns

This was the first book to concentrate on EAA and does so from the context of the J2EE platform.

Microsoft Enterprise Solution Patterns

Looks at EAA from the angle of .NET.

Enterprise Integration

Enterprise Applications are somewhat independent beasts, but to function they do need to work together. Stitching together independently developed EAs is the work of integration. Often you need to integrate applications that weren't design with any integration in mind, let alone the specific one that you are using, or they expect to integrate using a technology that you're no using.

Enterprise Integration Patterns

Patterns for messaging, which the authors (and I) see as the most promising way to do integration.

Microsoft Integration Patterns

Strategies for doing integration using Microsoft's technology.

Microsoft Data Patterns

Patterns for data replication and synchronization, which are two valuable techniques for integration.

Domain Logic

One of the most important, yet often forgot, aspects of enterprise applications is the domain logic. These are the business rules, validations, and calculations that operate on the data as it is brought into an information system or displayed by it. For simple database filing systems there is often little or no domain logic. However for many systems there is often quite complex domain logic, and this logic is subject to regular change as business conditions change.

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

One section outlines principal patterns for organizing domain logic.

Domain Driven Design

Goes into detail on using Domain Models: the most sophisticated domain logic pattern and the one that's the most suitable for complex logic.

Analysis Patterns

Patterns that show examples of domain models.

Data Model Patterns

More patterns that show examples of domains, from a data modeling approach.