Monday, September 15, 2003

Model Driven Services

The model for creating business software has leveraged the concept of utilizing a base engine (or server) and extending its functionality with specialized models, templates or other consumable metadata. In J2EE, we use a JSP template engine to consume JSP's, we use an EJB container to consume EJB's, etc. Typically we then chain together engines (JSP engines + EJB engine + DB engine) to fulfill some use case.

Many of the web services that I have created were "home grown", that is to say that they were written from scratch and didn't leverage any engine. The more I looked around, the more I realized that others (including vendors) seemed to be caught in the same boat. Moving web services into the (model + engine) world is obvious.

I found myself asking how come we haven't seen more model driven services? I think one reason is that many developers are too concerned about the SOA triangle (producer, consumer, directory). The SOA triangle is an architectural pattern that will be used over and over again inside of service-based applications. However, it isn't the end. Extending the triangle, or leveraging other patterns is absolutely necessary.

So, here are some interesting questions to ponder....
1. To what extent does one attempt to standardize authoring environment interfaces?
2. Does an authoring environment service provide a default UI customizer that is shippable (JNLP style)?
3. Should the customizers (models, meta data, etc.) be logically held together at the use-case / scenario level?

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