Function-behaviour-structure for website design

screenshot of summertown solutions ltd

So, you have decided to create your own website. You have read all the latest articles, bought a domain name, and now you are staring at your holding page wondering what your website is for and what you should put on it.

Never fear, function-behaviour-structure (FBS) theory can help. FBS is a popular artificial intelligence design theory and like all good fairy godmothers, it will answer your three questions:

  1. Function: What is the purpose of your website?
  2. Behaviour: What will your website do?
  3. Structure: What structure will your website take? Continue reading “Function-behaviour-structure for website design”

The eight tasks in an artefact lifecycle

full image at http://www.sumsol.co.uk/schema.pdf

A bridge, building, or piece of software may exist for many years. Or, as often happens in the case of new software, be scrapped before it is put into use. My mate Wayne, a professional software developer for over 12 years, has worked on several projects which were canned before they were completed. In a world of ever changing requirements and circumstances, ‘it’s not unusual’ as Tom Jones would say. Software development can take months, even years of effort, so scrapping the results is a waste. To counteract this, we have libraries for software reuse, design patterns and templates to avoid reinventing the wheel.

But why just reuse the product template or pattern? Why not template the tasks the artefact underwent during its lifecycle? By extending the theory of function, structure, and behaviour, there are eight tasks in an artefact lifecycle. Continue reading “The eight tasks in an artefact lifecycle”

Design using function, behaviour, structure

English Heritage pic of Rievaulx Abbey
Last month, at the Architectural Association, Bill Hillier described how English Heritage often want to reinstate the paths and roads of the historic sites they are trying to preserve. Hillier argued that these sites need new pathways as the way people interact with them now is not the same as when they were built. One example of this is Rievaulx Abbey. It was once a place where monks lived and worshipped, until Henry VIII dissolved the monastries to get his hands on their money.

Today, Rievaulx is a tourist attraction, which is occasionally used as a place of worship and the change in its functionality is reflected in the pathways around it. They can be described as paths of desire, which have come about because visitors wander across the grass or clamber over a wall to get to a specific part of the abbey instead of walking about retracing the routes the Cistercians may have used, which would give visitors a better insight into the way the abbey and its inhabitants behaved. Continue reading “Design using function, behaviour, structure”

Using patterns to shape our world

Escher picture

In the 1990s, Erich Gamma changed the way I thought about software engineering forever! Gamma visited the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne where I was a PhD student, in order to give a seminar on design patterns.

The idea of extracting a solution template from a piece of software to turn it into a pattern which can be reused, was to me, an exciting step forward in software engineering. Instead of reusing software from a library that needs to be maintained and ported as necessary, abstracting the solution and creating a pattern repository gives software engineers a toolbox of meta-level solutions.

Continue reading “Using patterns to shape our world”

Designing with the future in mind: The Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough

Transporter, Middlesbrough

Car use in the UK has risen an astonishing 70% in the last two decades and will apparently continue to rise, causing no end of headaches for structural engineers. When they design bridges, engineers need to anticipate factors such as current and future traffic on the bridge at any given time. Continue reading “Designing with the future in mind: The Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough”