Vol. 10 No. 7 – 07-01-2012


All Your Database Are Belong to Us

In the big open world of the cloud, highly available distributed objects will rule.

In the database world, the raw physical data model is at the center of the universe, and queries freely assume intimate details of the data representation (indexes, statistics, metadata). This closed-world assumption and the resulting lack of abstraction have the pleasant effect of allowing the data to outlive the application. On the other hand, this makes it hard to evolve the underlying model independently from the queries over the model. As the move to the cloud puts pressure on the closed-world assumption of the database, exposing naked data and relying on declarative magic becomes a liability rather than an asset. In the cloud, the roles are reversed, and objects should hide their private data representation, exposing it only via well-defined behavioral interfaces. The programming-language world has always embraced such an open-world assumption by putting behavior at the center of the universe and imperatively building reliable applications from unreliable parts. Object databases are back with a vengeance. To help developers transition to the cloud, the existing class libraries and tool infrastructure need to evolve to run as highly available services exposed using regular object-oriented programming language interfaces that reflect the relevant operational details.

by Erik Meijer

Software Needs Seatbelts and Airbags

Finding and fixing bugs in deployed software is difficult and time-consuming. Here are some alternatives.

Like death and taxes, buggy code is an unfortunate fact of life. Nearly every program ships with known bugs, and probably all of them end up with bugs that are discovered only post-deployment. There are many reasons for this sad state of affairs.

by Emery D. Berger

Multitier Programming in Hop

A first step toward programming 21st-century applications

The Web is becoming the richest platform on which to create computer applications. Its power comes from three elements: (1) modern Web browsers enable highly sophisticated GUIs with 3D, multimedia, fancy typesetting, etc.; (2) calling existing services through Web APIs makes it possible to develop sophisticated applications from independently available components; and (3) open data availability allows applications to access a wide set of information that was unreachable or that simply did not exist before. The combination of these three elements has already given birth to revolutionary applications such as Google Maps, radio podcasts, and social networks.

by Manuel Serrano, Gérard Berry

A New Objective-C Runtime: from Research to Production

Backward compatibility always trumps new features.

The path from the research prototype (√Čtoil√© runtime) to the shipping version (GNUstep runtime) involved a complete rewrite and redesign. This isnt necessarily a bad thing: part of the point of building a prototype is to learn what makes sense and what doesnt, and to investigate what is feasible in a world where you control the entire system, but not necessarily in production.

by David Chisnall