Pattern Libraries, Code Modules or Widgets are all the same. They are different names, coined by different groups of people to bring order, structure and re-usability into large website projects.
Pattern Libraries come from the design department. A pattern library refers to a collection of user interface (UI) design patterns that can be re-used in many pages and locations throughout the site. Designers will created these as grouped objects within layers in a layered design file. They enable a designer to replicate one part of the design in many places. This might be a search box, or social link, or news feed. A pattern library allows for consistency in design, but also speeds up the design process.
Code Modules or widgets are reusable segments of code that can be applied in many locations within a website. Often these can be applied across many websites. These are the words used by front end developers. The particular phrase used will depend on which CMS (content management system) your designers have used as some used ‘widgets’ and others use ‘modules’. These correspond to the pattern libraries, except they generally exist as code fragments.
Building a website is far quicker with pattern libraries and code modules. It is often a case of combining together the pre-built and designed libraries to create the desired outcome.
A good pattern library needs a consistent foundation with standard design parameters and consistent methods of coding.
Lego is a great example of a product with a well thought out pattern library – all the bricks are multiples of a standard size and it is quick to build structures with them. Contrast this with trying to build a model car from an assortment of meccano type sets that do not fit together – building takes far longer.
For large websites, a complete pattern library or code module will consider all elements of design, styling, coding and editing including ongoing marketing. ExtraDigital make use of pattern libraries or code modules to develop website functionality quickly for large websites. An example would be doctoori.net - a large medical website in Arabic with over 600 pages of articles, advice, health tools and clinic information.