Transparent Systems

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-10-17 Print this article Print

Toolmakers strive for smoother data access and process integration.

Enterprise applications access data and enable business processes. That may seem thoroughly obvious, but a recently arrived extraterrestrial looking at developers tools might easily get a different impression. The languages and tools that are used to build most applications put much of their expressive power and productivity enhancement into other areas.

Transparent access to data, independent of physical location or structural representation, is one key goal; seamless integration between the world of the developer and that of the business process owner is another. Giving developers powerful notations for communicating an applications purpose, rather than its mere behavior, is also of vital importance, as eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft discussed with Grady Booch, co-author of UML (Unified Modeling Language), in a conversation reported here.

Last month, Microsoft Corp.s Professional Developers Conference offered new points of departure for evaluating the next generation of developer aids. Microsofts LINQ (Language Integrated Query) Project envisioned integration of data operations into mainstream code; its WWF (Windows Workflow Foundation) sought visual and functional unification of human procedure and software performance.

But even Microsoft must acknowledge Joys Law (as in Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc.): "No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else." In a world of open-source efforts and international competition in software design and toolmaking, its important to look at the community as a whole. For example, the week of Microsofts conference also saw the World Wide Web Consortium release a working draft of the Version 1.0 specification for XQuery, a query and transformation language optimized for XML data environments.

eWEEK Labs therefore takes this opportunity for a broad look at whats difficult about data access and business process integration—and how it may soon become less so. (See "Flexibility Is Key to Access" and "Tools Gain Wider Customer Base."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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