Design in Object Technology

Design in Object Technology:
The Annotated Class of 1994


The classic, tour-de-force course on agile software development brought up to date with the backstories from the time and reflections on what is still relevant, from the original author and world-renowned agile manifesto co-author Dr. Alistair Cockburn.


That course in 1994 contained all the key concepts used in today's software development world: object-oriented design, incremental development, use cases and modern project management.


Now, Dr. Cockburn reflects on the course content:


  • What were the backstories behind the ideas then becoming mainstream?
  • What does he think of them now, almost 30 years later?


These are fresh, unique, and never-before-published thoughts.


This book offers a rare glimpse into a moment in time where the standards and practices of object technology were being chartered by the leaders of the day. It brings that up to date with the commentary on backstories and current thoughts.


Readers who already know the concepts will enjoy seeing how they were presented, will enjoy the backstories, and can compare their thoughts on his modern reflections. Newcomers will learn subtleties of techniques they may only have heard of. Everyone will enjoy the depth and liveliness of this remarkable course brought up to date.


Dr. Cockburn was named “42 Greatest Software Professionals of All Times." A world expert on methodologies, project management, software architecture, use cases and agile development, he co-authored both the Agile Manifesto and the Project Management Declaration of Inter- dependence. He was one of the leading methodologists in the new area of object-oriented design in the early 1990s. Hired by the IBM Consulting Group to create their methodology for object-technology projects, he taught the entire design team on a live project all they would need to know to run the project they were embarking on. It was a tour-de-force of project education, complete from project management tips to requirements gathering to software design. It set the stage for modern "agile" development techniques.


This book is that course, with backstories and current thoughts.


From the Preface
or, why you should buy this historic book.


In 1991 I was hired by the IBM Consulting Group to create a methodology for their object-technology projects. An early "agile" methodology, its emphasis was on incremental development, requirements in use cases, and design using responsibilities.


We applied the methodology in 1994 on a fixed-price, fixed-scope project that integrated COBOL programs with a sizable Smalltalk application via a relational database. Bid as a $10M, 18-month, 50-person project, it delivered on time at a cost of about $15M. The client was happy with the result and the system was still being maintained ten years later, so it was considered a successful project. The project is written up in detail as "project Winifred" in the 1997 book Surviving Object-Oriented Projects.

At the start of the project, I gave a week-long course to the entire team. it covered incremental development, use cases, responsibilities, an early hexagonal architecture, methodologies, whatever they would need to function on the project. The people in the course knew nothing about these concepts at the time.

The first book, "Class of 1994", was no more and no less than slides from that course, all 214 of them. To honor its historical purpose, I made no changes to the slides. What you saw is what I taught back then.

What I have done in this book is again, not to tell the course itself. The slides are fairly self-explanatory. I have written two sorts of comments, addressing these questions:


  • What was the backstory behind the ideas then becoming mainstream?
  • What do I think of them now? Still valid, passé, superseded?


It is these commentaries, more even than the course content, that may be of interest to practitioners today.
Because this is a commentary on a historical document, I do not attempt to repair any slides or update the course content itself. This is just as I showed it to them. What I have added as fresh content are my recollections from that time and my reflections on what has happened since.

This book may be of interest to those people who were practicing object-oriented design back in the 1990s. They will be interested to see how I presented topics that were current back then, and how I feel about them now. Designers arriving since 2001 may find this discourse interesting, to not only learn what life was like back then, but also to learn some of the historical underpinnings of what the best designers do today.

I hope you enjoy it.

Alistair Cockburn
Gulfport, Sept 2022


Your purchase choices

The paper version is pleasant to hold, you can flip back and forth across lectures. Two slides per page reads easily. Feels good, looks good. Is paper, ahhh.

 The epub is cheaper, read it on your digital device. Comes out as one slide per "page". That's about it :)

Choose whichever you prefer.

Sample pages from the book


(Click a pic to enlarge and step through the gallery)

Write me if you ordered a copy of The Class of 1994 earlier


This new book is the "director's cut" of the previous book, which was just the bare PPT.
If you bought  the paper copy of that bare PPT copy, write me, please. Let's see if I can fix you up :).


In all cases, thanks for your interest!