"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Saturday, September 18, 2004

WS-Transfer Comments Elsewhere

Update: Other useful quotes from Tim Bray...

I’m deeply suspicious of “standards” built by committees in advance of industry experience, and I’m deeply suspicious of... multiple layers of abstraction that try to get between me and the messages full of angle-bracketed text that I push around to get work done.
And Sean McGrath writes...
The whole WS standards thing has more moving parts than a 747. Much of it recently invented, untested and unproven in the real world... there are no exceptions to Gall's Law:
"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked."
Originally I quoted jeff schneider writing...
I am of the opinion that the WS-* spec teams are doing a severe disservice to the community by releasing these specifications without also identifying the best practices. In my opinion, it is no longer acceptable to release paradigm changing specifications without also releasing an implementation or best practice guide to go with it.
I could not agree more. The argument could be made there is a good bit of experience with these particular verbs. I think that argument is implicit (read below). But such an argument would be invalid. By far the majority of experiences with these verbs is unrelated to the kinds of systems this spec is intended for. Clearly this kind of a shift should be accompanied by references, examples, and best practices.
Standardizing verbs is good. I was a bit curious why the group didn't create a 'verb extension' or 'verb introduction' mechanism, but rather just 'hardcoded' a handful of verbs.
I am thankful they did not. Better to get experience with a fixed set and expand on that later if warranted.

Friday, September 17, 2004


Web Service Transfer (WS-Transfer)

Sorry. For some reason MSDN decided not to put tags inside the page. If you scroll down a few screensful, you will find the definition in a PDF and this abstract...

WS-Transfer defines how to invoke a simple set of familiar verbs (Get, Post, Put, and Delete) using SOAP. An application protocol may be constructed to perform these operations over resources.
Why, yes, these verbs do seem familiar. This makes them easier to adopt into a brand new spec, I guess. But does that make them the right set of verbs?

These verbs are workable in HTTP. But are they desirable when starting over? Do they facilitate automated coordination of distributed, asynchronous resources as well as any other set of verbs?

This spec looks to me like the easy way out of the job of hypothesizing, discovering, and validating something potentially more useful. Curious HTTP is not listed in the references. Neither are any landmark writings in the history of coordination mechanisms.

Sigh. While this could be seen as a simplified path out of the deep, dark woods of the WS-xxx, instead it is a cheap short cut avoiding or at least lacking much evidence of deep thought. Typical for WS-xxx then.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Florida Power & Light and Gemstone

A story from Charles Monteiro about FP&L's use of Smalltalk and Gemstone in their call center and trouble management systems.

I was pleased to know that the call center systems I had helped build were still standing and so was the trouble call management system among others.
Me too, then, I guess, in a smaller way. I wrote the Gem multiplexor that removed the "1 user / 1 OS process" restriction, to scale up the number of client connections to numbers approaching those claimed by the sales people years before. FP&L was one of the first customers to use it. Supposedly there was one situation where the Gemstone system kept running on Unix while IBM had to come in and patch the TCP/IP stack on the mainframe part of the system. Gemstone then cranked back up to full speed.
I am glad that so far those systems have weathered the Java marketing hype hurricane.
Yeah, that's great. Unfortunately Gemstone had barely developed federated Stones, multiplexed Gems, and better DB connections just before putting those efforts on the shelf in favor of the Java grail which not surprisingly never materialized. They continued making money from Smalltalk.

GNU Smalltalk and GTK+

From OS News...

"Hey - did you know that GNU Smalltalk now has GTK+ bindings? This is pretty sweet."

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.