Software Construction

Building software is a craft that requires careful design. This course teaches software design principles in a studio setting. Each week, students present their programs to the class for review. Together, the class evaluates the programs for correctness and, more importantly, clarity and design. Expect to learn how to build reliable, maintainable, extensible software and how to read others' code.


Code Walks


You must join the piazza group. Occasionally, important announcements are posted there between classes.

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Reccommended texts
Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. This text plays the role that a writing guide plays for an essayist, but for a programmer.

Felleisen, Findler, Flatt, Krishnamurthi How to Design Programs
Beck Extreme Programming Explained
Fowler, Scott UML Distilled
Pair Programming
All projects must be implemented via pair programming. Pair programming means that you do all programming together. For the first several assignments, any time either you or your partner type a single keystroke towards what you hand in, you must be together. Thinking about the project separately is fine, but not working on it. We will revisit pair programming throughout the quarter but expect to spend considerable amounts of time with your partner.

You must choose a partner with whom you wish to work on projects as soon as possible. You may switch partners after consulting with the course staff and discussing the work log together.
Read more about the pragmatics of pair programming.
Journal & Estimates
Each person must keep a work journal (individually). Every time you work on something related to this course, enter the following information (one line each):
  • what (topic),
  • when (date, time),
  • where (location),
  • who (working partner),
  • and how long (duration).
Please estimate at the beginning of each project how much time you think it will take. Enter the estimate in your journal. As the course progresses, try to understand how much you over/underestimate and try to correct for it. We will review the notebooks in case of conflicts and in case of borderline grades.
Programming Language

For in-class demonstrations and discussions, I will use UML diagrams, Java, and Racket.

For projects, you are free to choose whatever language you wish to use. You may also switch your language of choice over the course of the quarter.

Mostly, there will be one assignment per week. The assignments will include a short essay, modifications of a Java program, designing and implementing programs from scratch, and maintaining/modifying your own code.
Assignments Handin
We will be using Github for assignment submission starting with assignment 3. If you haven't used Git before, you can get familiar with its mecahnics with this tutorial

We have set up a GitHub organization for the course. Once you join the organization you and your partner will have access to a subset of the organization's private repositories:
  • the repository teamX-working where X is the number of the Github team for your pair,
  • all repositories teamN-codewalks where N is a team number,
  • and the repository topics.
The teamX-working repository is for you and your partner to use for working on your code. Only you, your partner and the course's staff have access to it. We will use the last commit before the deadline of the relevant assignment to pull the code for your code presentation. All members of the organization have read access to the teamN-codewalks repositories. We will use these repositories to make available to the class the code of the corresponding team after each code presentation so that you can comment on each other's code. The topics repository contains a single file where you can suggest topics we should discuss in class.

As you work on the assignments, please remember to commit often and use descriptive commit messages. Git commits are your best friend when you want to understand changes in your code or revert your code to a previous version.
Grades are assigned based on two factors: your class participation and your code presentations. Your weekly homework may have some influence in boundary cases.
Robby Findler