Geekspeak: September 23, 2002

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-09-23 Print this article Print

Web services minus 'wetware' equals difficulties.

The Hewlett-Packard calculator marketing site shown here is obviously "soft" to the point of being downright squishy, as witness the error message thats seamlessly interleaved with its dynamically generated content. Web services developers would do well to think about the failure modes that their sites, or the services sites on which they in turn may depend, might incur and the manner in which those failures will appear to service consumers.

Its one thing when a "Web appliance" is a thin device bearing a Web browser, with a highly adaptive, post-processor stage in the form of a human viewer. Its another thing when a Web appliance is a "headless" device, with no user interface at all, but only embedded software interacting with other devices and services—and with no imagination or ability to distinguish between exceptional data and extraneous noise.

Without the included-at-no-extra-cost assistance of a live users "wetware," Web services development is going to be a much more difficult task than traditional Web site design.

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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel