Program Interfaces, Patterns and Anti-patterns

Computer science is embarrassed by the Computer
— Alan Perlis

One of the most important roles of senior engineers and architects is to define the boundaries between programs. This must be done thoughtfully, with a firm understanding of what is being abstracted, and foresight of evolving needs.

Unfortunately, these skills are typically learnt the hard way. This course is our attempt to rectify that, providing a tour of program interfaces, patterns and anti-patterns through the lens of a system that participants build themselves in and between classes.

We cover many specific API designs in detail, but the ultimate objective is broader: participants should leave with greater confidence that their own API designs will stand the test of time.


  1. Modeling, Data Storage and Network Endpoints
  2. Securing Network Endpoints
  3. Data Formats and Serialization
  4. User Interface APIs
  5. Graph Query Endpoints
  6. Command Line Interfaces
  7. Library/Module Design
  8. Packaging

Course project

To make the ideas covered in this course more concrete, participants will build out a system for hosting code snippets, along the lines of Each class will involve discussion of principles interleaved with application of those principles to the system implementation. The project may be completed individually or in small groups, and any mainstream language can be used for all but one class (which requires JavaScript).

Assumed knowledge

This course assumes 1-2 years of work experience as a software engineer with some exposure to a mix of program interfaces.

Schedule and price

This course will next run two evenings per week for four weeks in September 2018. The total cost is $1,800.

Apply now Still have questions? Contact us.
This class was all about expanding my toolbox and vocabulary for interface design. Programs have been written for half a century; this means that when I’m faced with a programming problem, odds are that there is a pattern or best practice out there that I can take inspiration from. Putting names and faces to them allows me to go for exactly what I want rather than fumbling around and making costly mistakes.
Tiger Shen portrait
Tiger Shen, Software Engineer at Braintree

[email protected]
576 Natoma St
San Francisco, California
© 2016 Bradfield School of Computer Science