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The Rise and Fall of CORBA

by Stefan Tilkov on Jun 19, 2006 |

Michi Henning, who used to be one of the most well-known public figures in the CORBA scene, has written an article for ACM queue describing "the rise and fall of CORBA". Despite its focus on this particular technology, which many view as one of the alternatives for implementing service-oriented architectures, some of his arguments might be considered applicable for the standard and specifications in the Web services space:

By combining features, specifications end up as the kitchen sink of every feature thought of by anyone ever. This not only makes the specifications larger and more complex than necessary, but also tends to introduce inconsistencies: Different features that, in isolation, are perfectly reasonable can subtly interact with each other and cause semantic conflicts.

To be fair, the often criticized closed-door process most MS/IBM-driven WS specifications are created in addresses some of these problems. WSDL 2.0 and XML Schema (part 1, part 2) might be considered canonical examples of design by committee.

Doug Schmidt, another very respected name in the CORBA scene, weighs in with some thoughtful comments and related links in the comp.object.corba newsgroup; another interesting follow-up is by Steve Loughran, co-author of the influential "Rethinking the Java SOAP Stack" report. Whatever one may think about the reasons for CORBA's failure - or in fact, whether one believes CORBA has failed at all - it's certainly worth being aware of mistakes made in the past to avoid them in the future.

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It could happen to us! by Floyd Marinescu

It would seem as an observer that the kitchen sink effect is happening in the SOA space with all the WS-* specs.

Standards by Geoffrey Wiseman

I have to admit, this is why I often like the 'defacto' standards over the 'designed' standards; they're developed to serve a particular need, they take a viewpoint, and they don't deliver designs that try and please everyone to the benefit of none.

Re: Standards by Geoffrey Wiseman

Now that I've had time to read the article in full, I'd say there are some useful lessons for software developers (and product developers in particular), even those not responsible for the creation of standards.

More Comments by Stefan Tilkov

Some more interesting comments have been made by Systinet's Radovan Janecek and IONA's Steve Vinoski.

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