Preface to Chapter 6
Writing this chapter has been mixed up with developing the augmented archive at
the.natureof.software. The goal, as I mentioned previously, is to provide a space for the community of subscribers to read the entirety of the work in one place, as well as—eventually—discuss and annotate it, and further distill the concepts into material that can be applied directly, and where applicable, programmatically. This is still a work in progress, with a handful of items outstanding—in no particular order—to reach “minimum viable” status:
- The visual design, which I will undoubtedly noodle on ad infinitum,
- generated / boilerplate content, and the infrastructure to support it,
- some mechanism that syncs subscribers from the newsletter to the website…
The current list of subscribers, as of this writing, will have access to
the.natureof.software. through an initial manual sync. To log in, use the same e-mail address where you get the newsletter delivered. I want to underscore that this site is still lumpy as heck and I am actively hacking on it. I'll try to get automatic syncing online as soon as possible.
And now, enjoy Chapter 6: Good Shape.
In the chapter in Nature of Order introducing good shape, Christopher Alexander admitted that it was one of the more elusive of the fifteen properties. Not only is it the only one of them whose name explicitly expresses an opinion, he defined it in terms of itself: analogous to strong centers, a good shape is made up of good shapes. He nevertheless got more specific with an enumerated list of criteria for what he meant:
- High degree of internal symmetries.
- Bilateral symmetry (almost always).
- A well-marked center (not necessarily at the geometric middle).
- The spaces it creates next to it are also positive (positive space).
- It is very strongly distinct from what surrounds it.
- It is relatively compact (i.e., not very different in overall outline from something between 1:1 and 1:2 — exceptions may go as high as 1:4, but almost never higher).
- It has closure, a feeling of being closed and complete.
The Nature of Order, Book 1, Chapter 2.6, p. 183.