CORBA's not boring yet. / XML in an OS?

Ingargiola, Tito ti64877 at
Thu Feb 4 19:12:19 GMT 1999


I'm certainly not ready to condemn CORBA to the realm of "boring, overhyped
and underused technologies" (though I do have my moments...), and I don't
know too much about GNOME and KDE specifically, but I certainly think that
there is a great deal of potential synergy between CORBA and XML/DOM in the
"application server" space.  

I believe that many of the people looking at XML (and the alphabet soup of
related technologies...) are looking to implement systems which:
	o deal with databases of various sorts
	o present UIs via the web
	o provide programmatic/non-web interfaces to external systems 

and XML (and friends) promise to help in each of these areas.  Database
vendors are (talking about) providing an XML layer on their DBMSs, web
browser and server vendors are driving many of these standards efforts, and
XML's applicability to workflow-type problems is possibly its key selling

This, to me, all points to the fact that XML is going to become a key
element in the "application server" space.  I don't think there are any
surprises here.  

The fact that the DOM provides IDL mappings (albeit barely workable ones
:-/), *combined* with the fact that application servers have obvious
scalability problems without some means of distribution (e.g., CORBA, DCOM,
&tc) tells me that this space is the key area in which we'll see CORBA and
XML (&tc) playing together.  

Another area (where these families of technologies meet) which has generated
a lot of attention is as one of the mechanisms used to provide a "metadata"
description of a software component (e.g., a javaBean or a (D)COM object),
but this seems to me rather less generally interesting for people looking to
implement systems  in the short term with characteristics like those
described above.  (For component tools vendors, however ...)

What is more interesting (to me, at least ;-) is trying to envision what our
XML-friendly, distributed application server is going to look like.  What
kinds of services do we need to provide in our distributed environment to
best leverage these technologies?  I certainly imagine that we'll have some
means of querying a DB and receiving a Document, DocumentFragment, or
(shudder) NodeList as a result of this query.  Further, we'll be able to
"push" this object up onto our distribution mechanisms "bus" (to use a
CORBAism).  I also imagine that we'll have a set of services for
manipulating these objects available on our bus: transformations (for
sorting, searching, retargeting to a different DOM model (e.g., HTML), &tc),
formatting (think the formatting side of XSL), reference resolution (e.g.,
get the appropriate stylesheet, DTD or XLink-ed element in this document),
and undoubtedly others.  Our application server will clearly have one or
more gateways from/to (e.g., through) a Web Server, and may well provide
tools to help automate the development of non web-oriented interfaces to the

Naturally, there are a lot of question marks remaining here (performance
looms large in my mind), but I feel pretty safe saying this is one of the
key places we're going with XML, and CORBA and other distribution
technologies share a pretty prominent role in this space.  I'd be interested
to hear how others envision this hypothetical (for now) application server.


> ----------
> Subject: 	CORBA's not boring yet. / XML in an OS?
> Hi,
> A little while ago on this list someone said they hope that XML wasn't
> going to have the fate of CORBA ... a standard that people asked too
> much of, and that is now relegated to the world of boring, overhyped and
> underused technologies.
> Well, I was reminded about it when I read this month's Linux Journal -
> it describes how -both- up and coming desktop environments are basing
> major parts of their architectures on CORBA.  KDE's so cool it makes me
> want to learn C++. :)
> Prediction:  In 3 years, half the people on this list will be using a
> corba-based desktop environment.
> Anyhow, this naturally makes me wonder - could XML and related ideas
> like XSL have a place in an operating system?  Where would they fit in?
> KDE and Gnome could be great playgrounds for trying something like this
> out.
> - Robb

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