Important Dates

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July 12
Paper submissions due.
July 25
Shepherding begins
August 30
Second draft due for review
September 4
Notification of acceptance
September 4
Deadline focus group / workshop proposals
September 10
Registration Opens
September 25
Conference Versions Due
October 12-16, 2020
PLoP Conference Days
February 9, 2021
Proceeding version due


Call For Submissions

Update: Given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation we have made the decision to go virtual with PLoP this year.

The Pattern Languages of Programs conference (PLoP™) is the premier event for pattern authors and enthusiasts to gather, discuss, and learn more about patterns, programming, and software development. The conference committee is currently working hard on the planning to ensure that PLoP remains a collaborative and engaging event with strong traditions. Running our Writer’s Workshops, Focus Groups, and games in an online setting creates new opportunities for the global patterns community to participate, and is enabling new elements in our program. We are looking forward to receiving your submissions and meeting you virtually this fall!

About PLoP

Software developers and researchers have long observed that certain themes recur and endure across different applications and different domains. In 1993 this emerging interest in software patterns and pattern languages resulted in an effort to document and communicate these themes and to provide handbooks of proven solutions to common problems. Thus, the PLoP (Pattern Languages of Programs) conference came into existence – a conference that is now entering its 27th year with PLoP 2020.

PLoP brings together practitioners and researchers whose interests span a broad range of topics who share an interest in exploring the power of the pattern form. While we began with only considering patterns of software, the conference has grown beyond its roots to include many other areas of pattern applicability, both inside and outside of software development. PLoP invites you to add your expertise to the growing body of patterns. At PLoP, we focus on improving the written expression of patterns through writers’ workshops. You will have opportunities to refine and extend your patterns with the assistance of knowledgeable and sympathetic patterns enthusiasts and to work with others to develop pattern languages. And this year, we will be conducting our workshops and writers’ activities online. The new virtual format is designed to engage patterns enthusiasts—both newcomers and patterns experts alike—in collaborative writing critiques, discussions, online activities, and more.


Paper submissions may include short papers containing one or more patterns, longer pattern languages or sequences, or works in-progress by writers wishing to get in-depth shepherding by an experienced author at the conference. Patterns and pattern languages on other topics, essays on patterns, and visions for the future are encouraged.

In addition, you may submit proposals for free-format discussion groups or workshops bringing together people interested in a hot topic related to patterns or proven practices—with a duration about two hours. Non-conventional formats are welcome.

Submissions should fall into one of the following categories:

PLoP Spotlight Topic Groups (Papers)

In the past, one of the most rewarding parts of PLoP has been in fostering cooperation among domain experts who have an interest in collaborating. Over time, we found the strongest pattern languages created during these collaborations resulted in some solid examples such as programming framework patterns (Java Spring), integration patterns (Enterprise Integration Patterns), pedagogical patterns, organizational change patterns (Fearless Change), and web services patterns.

This year we are specifically looking for people who want to collaborate in the following Spotlight Topics. We invite submissions in the form of patterns or papers about patterns written with a maximum of 10 pages (font no smaller than 11pt).

Please submit to only one of the following six groups (and note this in your comments to the committee):

  • Education: Education, training, and online learning.
  • Teams: Virtual teams, remote communication and collaboration.
  • Change: Innovation, change, and experimentation.
  • Modeling and Design: Domain modeling, EventStorming, Sociotechnical design.
  • Software and systems: Progressive web apps, event-sourced architectures, micro-services, security and IoT.
  • PLoPourri – if your paper doesn’t fit in any of the above, you can submit to this group.

If you submit a paper and it is accepted, you agree to read and comment on all the papers in that group prior to the conference, thus making it possible to substantively improve the papers during the conference.

PLoP Talks

We also invite patterns enthusiasts to submit proposals for short presentations on topics of interest to the patterns community. These talks might be about updates on patterns and pattern languages, discussions of specific patterns and their evolution, experiences using and applying patterns, or experiences with writing, revising and shepherding patterns. The above topics are suggestions, we encourage you to be creative and think outside of the “box.”

Focus Groups (Discussions)

We also invite submissions for online working sessions where a topic is introduced and participants get to collaborate and work together on filling in knowledge or learning new pattern-related techniques. If you submit a proposal for a focus group, be sure to include a description of the format for the focus group as well as an abstract and proposed session outline.

Submission Procedure

The core of PLoP is the Writers' Workshop, where authors work together to improve their papers. Before papers are accepted for a Writers' Workshop, they are shepherded. Shepherding is an iterative process, where an experienced author discusses the submission with its authors to refine the paper prior to the conference. All submissions are peer-reviewed after shepherding.

Following shepherding, papers may be accepted directly into a Writers' Workshop or alternatively, into a Writing Group. Writing Group papers will receive additional shepherding. Writing Group papers reaching a required standard will be considered for inclusion in the conference proceedings.

The PLoP proceedings are published after the conference through the ACM Digital Library. It is expected that papers submitted to PLoP will be revised after receiving feedback. Papers discussed at a Writers' Workshop at PLoP qualify for submission to the journal Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming published by Springer.

There is a three stage submission process for the conference:

  • Initial submissions are assessed for suitability. Papers judged suitable are assigned a shepherd who will help its authors improve the paper.
  • Authors are expected to submit a second draft part way through the shepherding process. After shepherding, each paper will be assessed for quality and its authors' willingness to accept feedback. This review will determine whether a paper is accepted to the conference for further review either within a Writer’s Workshop or a Writing Group..
  • Authors with help of their shepherds are expected to continue revising their paper until the final drafts are due. To submit your paper, please visit the PLoP submission page. At least one of the authors of each accepted paper must register for the conference. Failure to do so will result in acceptance being withdrawn

To submit your paper, please visit: The final version of the paper should be submitted in the PDF format (produced on a high-resolution output device) on letter paper size (8 1/2" x 11") following the ACM single column format. Initial submissions that don't follow the format will be accepted, but the last version should follow the templates to be published on the ACM library. ACM single column templates are available in Word and LaTex:

At least one of the authors of accepted papers are expected to register for the conference. Failure to do so may result in acceptance being withdrawn.

I am looking forward to reading your submissions, learning about the patterns that you have observed, and to meeting you virtually online. Welcome to PLoP 2020!

On behalf of PLoP 2020,
--Rebecca Wirfs-Brock
Program Chair

Shepherding Process

The shepherding process is essentially a reviewing process. Shepherds are individuals, with experience in pattern writing, assigned to an author's paper with the expressed interest in helping the author improve the pattern. Most Shepherds also have experience with the shepherding procedure, either having been a shepherd before or a sheep (an author).

Shepherding is about improving the pattern itself, while the Shepherd maintains that the author is the one doing the pattern writing. The shepherding process is done before the paper is to be presented at a conference. The Shepherd guides the sheep into a more mature understanding of his or her pattern.

Near the end of the shepherding, Shepherds must submit their recommendations to the Program Committee members, which then decide about its acceptance to the part of a writer's workshop of the conference. After accepted, authors and shepherds can continue evolving the papers to produce the conference draft version.

For a more in-depth description of this reviewing process typical of PLoP's, visit "The Language of Shepherding" (PDF) written by Neil Harrison.

All the papers submitted and accepted to be shepherded for PLoP are available for Program Committee members, shepherds, and authors.


The conference version of the papers will be publicly available, individually, by writers' workshop, and into the preliminary conference proceedings.

Being feedback and improvement the focus of the writers' workshops, papers are not considered final once they have been workshopped. Authors incorporate the feedback they receive at the writers' workshop into their papers before the papers go into the final proceedings to be produced after the conference, which will be made available through here.

Post-conference papers will be digitally archived by ACM.

TPLoP Journal

Papers discussed at writer's workshop at this conference qualify for submission to the new journal "TPLoP - Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming" published by Springer. See Springer's pages on TPLoP for details of this journal.