This paper explores the value of the architecture profession’s notion of ‘the canon’ as a design transfer and knowledge transmission model for software architecture, and the overlap with the design patterns movement. The emerging body of architectural and design patterns has already become a kind of software ‘canon’— patterns and pattern languages exemplify design and act as design archetypes, have shared visibility through conventional and online media, and result from an established and intensive canonisation process consisting of shepherding (mentored authoring) and writer’s workshops (a review protocol). Research is underway to understand the need for a ‘software design canon’ and its accompanying discourse, and how well the design pattern form can fulfil this need.