Transparent Systems

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."

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