The context: For all intents and purposes, I feel like I'm about the level of a pretty competent second year student at computer science. I have taken all the basic algorithms and systems classes; my C is pretty good, and I can even read disassembly with a bit of effort. OOP. Algo. P vs NP. Let's call this the "old school stuff".

My specific question is this: I can't figure out what "topic" these terms fall under, and in my mind, I call this the "new school stuff". I'm struggling with terminology here, but for the lack of a better word, what topic do these things fall under?

  • design patterns
  • reactive programming
  • MVC
  • event-driven programming
  • the "stack", i.e. a "full-stack" developer
  • agile development
  • software as a service
  • "architecture"

closed as too broad by GlenH7, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Kilian Foth, user40980, gnat Dec 17 '14 at 16:35

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    You didn't miss a class, for the same reasons that, when you first encountered the concept of addition, you didn't miss the Addition class, because addition is part of math. – Robert Harvey Dec 14 '14 at 21:40
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    @RobertHarvey It just goes on to illuminate the wide cognitive gaps between the industry and the academia. I'm not hopeful that CS profs are even aware of those terms. (On the other hand, I've seen most CS instructors being better connected to the industry and practice.) – rwong Dec 14 '14 at 21:54
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    @rwong Well, none of these terms are "Computer Science/Theory" terms. There's always been a divide between theory and application; excellent practitioners are well grounded in both disciplines. – Robert Harvey Dec 14 '14 at 21:58
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    A CS degree should prepare students to learn this on their own. Spend the extra week on algorithms and data structures and leave the agile flavor of the month to the workshops. – JeffO Dec 15 '14 at 0:51
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    Everything doesn't have to "fit" together to make sense. These are all quite different concepts. I learned about some of them in a class called Software Engineering. But you'll never get the "bigger picture" just by reading about them. It's something that comes in play when you're doing practical work and even then, knowing their name and theoretical details won't help you most of the time. It's the divide between theory and practice. In theory you talk about them, in practice you use them. – Alternatex Dec 15 '14 at 8:40

Short answer

There is no single topic where all of these terms fall under.

And no. You probably didn't heard these terms even if you had not skipped any classes. It is quite normal for a student never hearing about them from the mouth of academia.

What you are missing out is an internship. (Also known as apprentice, practical training, co-op, etc.)

There are agencies which claim to teach the skills and manners outside of an employment relationship. (Instead, you pay them to enroll.) This is called "boot-camp". Since there are good, bad, and ugly ones, I will not talk much about this.

Long answer

Design patterns

Recurring class design and interaction patterns observed in many real-world object-oriented programming (OOP) projects sampled from many versatile areas. An augmentation to the practice of OOP.


An architecture proposed for implementing graphical programming interfaces (GUI)

Event-driven programming

A fundamental control-flow structure that is the basis of all GUI programming. Also refers to languages, frameworks and reusable libraries that are designed specifically to improve upon event-driven programming.

Examples of things which are not event-driven programming:

  • Command-line interface
  • Menu-driven programming (a text-based user interface no longer in use)
  • Batch processing (or unattended processing, and thus do not have any user interfaces at all)

The "stack"

A shorthand of "technology stack". The latter refers to the constituents of a layered architecture of a computing system. The term is used in an attempt to quickly describe a particular combination of technological choices made at every layer of computing in a given system.

In practice, it is a concatenation of buzzwords:

public override string ToString()
    return string.Join(",", new string[] { 
        hardware.Name, os.Name, database.Name, webBackendFramework.Name, webFrontendFramework.Name });

"Full-stack" developer

An emerging employment and career-track pattern among web-facing software development professionals. Refers to professionals who are well equipped to both the web back-ends and web front-ends.

This term gives the impression that a "full-stack developer" has broad knowledge and is capable of building up a whole website (both client-side and server-side) just by oneself.

Agile development

A software development methodology. Refer to Wikipedia article. Also see: "Lean development", "Scrum", and "Kanban".

Historically relevant concepts (but not necessary for understanding this term in its current sense) are: "Toyota Production System", "Agile Manifesto", "Extreme Programming".

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

An industry trend in software. This trend affects every aspect of software development:

  • Monetization (how do you make money)
  • Pricing and Billing (how and when customers make payments to you)
  • Development velocity (how much time from coding to making that new feature available to users)
  • Release cycle (how often is a major revision released)
  • Infrastructure (where does the "software" runs on; who pays for the hardware; who maintains the machines)

Simply put, it is a revolutionary trend and a disruptive innovation, although it is a gradual change happening over the decades and not an abrupt change.

It is disruptive in the sense that software development companies which do not adopt SaaS will be in a permanent competitive disadvantage and face extinction.


See "software architecture" and "software engineering" in Wikipedia. Also look up for "management and information systems (MIS)" in your own school's course offerings.

  • MVC: An architecture proposed for implementing graphical programming interfaces (GUI). Though ended up as the go-to pattern for WebDev frameworks. Should note this in your answer as there are no more major frameworks that don't apply the MVC paradigm. – Alternatex Dec 15 '14 at 8:31

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