|By Jeremy Allaire||
|May 30, 2002 12:00 AM EDT||
The MX family of software was introduced by Macromedia last month. Without a doubt, it is the broadest and most impactful set of software releases in the company's 10-year history.
Macromedia MX combines clients, servers, and tools into an integrated family that will deliver rich Internet applications. It deeply embraces the idea of deploying and using "software as services," though the MX approach goes beyond many of the current notions and discussions in the industry about Web services.
What's the Big Idea?
Over the past couple of years, an idea has emerged (some might argue it's an old idea) that software will be transformed into being used as services, rather than as monolithic applications tied to a specific machine or platform. Rather than install software onto computers every time we need some functionality, an end user or corporation can reuse other application assets over the network. The idea expands into the notion of just-in-time delivery of applications. "Software as services" is a big idea. It holds the promise of introducing radical new economies of scale into the manufacture and distribution of software applications. From an end-user perspective, it's the idea that users can access information and applications anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
This is a powerful set of ideas. It's the idea that the value we create in software can be freed from any single delivery platform. It's the idea that rich applications can be used easily across platforms and devices. How close are we today to realizing this set of ideals?
The Web Services Industry Today
The phenomenal focus on Web services over the past year is interesting when contrasted with the actual set of technologies available to fulfill this vision. When comparing the broader vision for software as services to the current world of Web services technologies - protocols like SOAP and formats like WSDL - it looks more like we're perhaps 25% of the way toward fulfilling that vision.
Today Web services are primarily talked about through the lens of specific protocols - SOAP and WSDL, perhaps UDDI, though I've yet to find a customer who's really using UDDI in any significant way. This early focus and discussion is great; finding the holy grail of a common protocol for exchanging objects and data between platforms is an incredible achievement, and the fact that the industry is so focused on it gives us hope for the future of interoperable and open software.
But even the current crop of technologies implemented around these standards has problems and challenges. In the Web services model, application logic is well structured, often as component services. In actuality, the need to deliver well-structured applications has largely eluded Web application development over the past years. In fact, we all know that close to 75% of Web applications aren't well structured; they're conglomerations of dynamic pages, including scripting languages, database code, and presentation logic all together. Indeed, the desire to move to component middleware standards such as EJB, CORBA, and COM has been manifest mostly in the world of high-end architectures within large corporations rather than in the mainstream of Web application development.
As such, there is a huge disconnect between the need for well-structured Web services and the reality that most Web applications are built using 4GL scripting languages, usually are unstructured, and rarely meet the requirements of thoughtfully designed object-oriented systems.
Let's assume for a moment that Web services are strictly defined as the middleware standards for messaging and object marshaling - for example, SOAP and WSDL. Even in that world, the vast majority of Web application developers aren't well positioned to both create and consume Web services without becoming full-on system programmers using complete object-oriented environments such as Java or .NET. The back-end world of Web services needs to evolve to make it simpler for RAD or scripting-level developers to easily create and consume Web services. It would be a huge victory for the industry if those 75% of Web applications built with scripting languages could also share their value and data with other applications.
However, the focus on Web services through this lens largely relegates the topic to discussions of classic back-end middleware rather than a more holistic view of what's necessary to deliver software as a service. Strikingly absent from the current discussion of Web services is any notion at all of what the end-user experience is of these "software services." This is due in part to the type of vendors thinking about Web services - for example, traditional enterprise middleware companies - but it's also because of the hard work required by interoperable messaging and object protocols. These are necessary conditions to any future for software as services.
Getting back to the original vision of software as services, it's quickly apparent that we need a much more holistic discussion and framework for thinking about Web services, one that actually includes end users using this software. What would an end-to-end model for Web services look like?
The Missing Piece: Rich Clients and Web Services
Many of the early visions and discussions of Web services centered on the idea that, in the future, software could be used as a service rather than as monolithic applications that needed to be installed and used on our desktop computers. While the Web has made progress in delivering applications easily to browsers, the world of Web services would take it further by delivering the experience of desktop-quality software that can be consumed as a service. Visions of using "productivity applications" as services were common interpretations by the industry. Examples such as Hotmail and Salesforce.com were cited as leading indicators. In this future world of software services, end users could easily access rich applications from any desktop computer; these applications would always have their personal information, would be interconnected with back-end systems, and could even be portable across devices. This new world, however, would leave behind the document-based or page-based model of the Web for one that was much richer in terms of application capability, and that extended beyond the browser onto desktops and devices.
What is the user experience of Web services? What's the model for combining rich interfaces with back-end middleware to deliver exceptional new value for end users and the companies that serve them?
Macromedia believes that the perfect complement to Web services as middleware is the emerging category of rich clients. Indeed, it may well be that rich clients and Web services are two sides of the same coin, combining to enable this world of software as services.
What are these rich clients, and what do they require to really meet the requirements of transforming the user experience and providing the logical front-end to back-end Web services?
Rich clients should combine rich content, applications, and communications in a single client environment. By rich content I mean richly formatted text, graphics, audio, and video. By applications I mean both rich, complex-user interfaces - the kind we expect from a modern desktop computer - and application logic and data deployed in the network. And by communications I mean the ability for end users to interact through these clients, to share data, text, audio, and video in real time and nonreal time. Rich clients should provide these capabilities in an integrated manner, where the applications that can target them far exceed what is possible in the world of HTML documents.
Rich clients should allow applications to run in browsers, but also as standalone applications on desktops and laptops. They should also support running on devices. To support these new Internet-connected application types, they should support offline data storage, enabling occasionally connected devices and applications.
Most important, rich clients should anticipate the emerging world of back-end Web services by using a services-oriented architecture for integrating business logic and data across the network, whether that's simply contained in an application server or actually a distributed Web service exposed through a protocol like SOAP.
Rich clients and Web services combined hold the promise of fulfilling the broader vision that the industry has for deploying software as services. The combination will enable rich, business-connected productivity applications. It will transform what's possible on the Internet today. From now on, when people ask you what Web services are and why they're significant, make sure your worldview encompasses this broader perspective on software as services.
Macromedia MX and Web Services
As might be expected, Macromedia has focused on delivering a holistic approach to Web services, one that provides transformative technology for the client, server, and development-tools aspects of Web services.
ColdFusion MX: An Approachable Web Services Environment
Starting with the more common world of Web services as component middleware, Macromedia has introduced major new Web services capabilities in ColdFusion MX, the latest release of this rapid server scripting environment. For those not familiar with CFMX, it's a fundamental shift and repositioning for ColdFusion in the industry, moving from being a proprietary application server to a rapid development and scripting environment that runs on any popular application server, such as IBM WebSphere or Sun's Sun ONE.
Specifically with Web services, Macromedia focused on delivering a Web services engine that would empower RAD and scripting-level developers to easily construct and consume Web services. Using a technology called ColdFusion Components, or CFCs, scripting developers can add simple tags that provide metadata for defining a service and then include arbitrary script inside that metadata. The result is a well-defined component that provides a services-based interface (see Figure 1). Underneath, CFCs are dynamically compiled into JavaBeans and hot-deployed into the containing application server. This gives the mass of scripters the ability to easily construct server-side logic that can immediately be exposed through SOAP and can also be used by rich clients, such as Macromedia Flash Player.
The ColdFusion MX Web services engine is actually based on Macromedia's active involvement in the Apache Axis project, with strong contributions from IBM and others in the Apache community. It is the first commercial server to use this powerful new open-source Web services platform.
While CFCs allow developers to create Web services easily, ColdFusion MX also includes approachable capabilities for consuming and using Web services. Developers can declaratively invoke any Web service and Web service method at runtime; ColdFusion will dynamically generate Java client proxies that handle all the SOAP interactions, and actually transform SOAP results into local variables that can be used from script. Developers don't need to think about parsing SOAP or WSDL, or even of manually building client proxy skeletons, let alone having to invoke interfaces on those proxies.
Web services can also be imported into a script and used as tag libraries, with each method on a Web service exposed as a custom tag, enabling even HTML-level designers and programmers to use Web services.
Flash Player 6.0: The Internet's Premier Rich Client
In line with our more holistic view of software as services, Macromedia is leading the way with the introduction of a powerful rich client for delivering Internet applications. Macromedia Flash Player has evolved into being a complete environment for delivering rich user experiences across browsers, operating systems, and devices.
Over the last several years, Macromedia Flash Player has emerged as the most ubiquitous client runtime on the Internet. With more than 98.3% of Internet end users having a version of the player, it is now the most widely deployed software environment in the history of computing. Since the introduction of Flash Player 6.0, we've distributed well over 100 million new runtimes, averaging almost 3 million downloads per day. Packed into this new player are powerful new capabilities for delivering applications. Flash Player now provides a more complete programming environment, a visual component model, and fantastic new rich-content types (see Figure 2).
Most important, we've introduced technology for connecting rich client applications with back-end services. Dubbed Macromedia Flash Remoting, this technology provides a high-performance connection between rich clients and back-end services, no matter what the back-end platform or model. Flash Remoting supports using services deployed as CFCs and scripts, Java classes, JavaBeans, EJBs, JMX Beans, C# objects, ADO.NET, and ASP.NET pages. With these services it provides a high-performance binary connection - running over HTTP - between server objects and client objects.
Additionally, Macromedia Flash Remoting provides a simple mechanism for connecting Flash to SOAP Web services, even services deployed on networks and servers that are different from the application's origin domain. Crucially, browser-contained Flash applications follow a strict security sandbox, where they can make requests only to their originating domain. Flash Remoting provides a server-based proxy to any SOAP Web services.
Nonetheless, the Macromedia Flash Remoting model uses a services-based architecture that is back-end independent: client code can use services without ever knowing the type of back-end implementation.
Dreamweaver MX: Creating and Using Web Services
Two tools in Dreamweaver MX stand out with respect to creating and using Web services. Dreamweaver MX includes development tools for creating CFCs for easy authoring, providing one of the quickest ways to create SOAP-accessible Web services. It also includes significant tools for using other people's Web services. The Dreamweaver MX Web services browser allows you to point to any WSDL file or UDDI repository and import a Web service into the development environment. This provides a visual browser of the Web service's interface, and will even generate client proxies for .NET and Java. Once developers find a method they want to use, they can drag-and-drop these into their code and Dreamweaver will create the basic invocation code automatically.
Studio MX: Tools for Creating Web Services
With the MX product family Macromedia has both broadened and focused its suite of design and development tools by providing an integrated suite called Macromedia Studio MX. Studio MX provides everything needed to rapidly create everything from content and graphics to rich and complex user interfaces, server-side logic, and components that interact with XML, databases, and Web services (see Figure 3).
In the MX family Macromedia Flash MX provides the primary authoring environment for creating rich client user interfaces, evolving from its early heritage as a motion graphics design environment to a complete application development tool for client-side applications. Likewise, Dreamweaver MX has also been transformed from being the premier Web authoring and site development package to a complete IDE for Web application development, including powerful new programming and database tools and support for XML and Web services.
Software as Services: Make It Real
Macromedia is passionate about the idea of using software as services. We believe in a holistic view that encompasses both the front-end user experience and the back-end integration layer. Our hope is that by making Web services approachable and affordable, all of us - not just the legions of advanced programmers and classic middleware developers - will be able to take advantage of what they have to offer. Building for the next generation of the Internet should be fun - let's make the Internet interesting again!
|David Santora 06/16/02 11:46:00 AM EDT|
yea, but you have to pay a monthly fee for all these services. and you could aford to pay for more services, when you are all ready paying for cablle tv, cable or DSL access,cell phones a regular phone service and the list gos on. and now you will ba paying for a whole list of internet services monthly. ( I don' think so )
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EST
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:30 PM EST
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:15 PM EST Reads: 243
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 493
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 367
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 432
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 435
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 538
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 342
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 30, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 462
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 355
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 294
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 30, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 506
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 30, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 566
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 30, 2015 07:00 AM EST Reads: 384
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Nov. 30, 2015 07:00 AM EST Reads: 470
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Nov. 30, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 389
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Nov. 30, 2015 05:30 AM EST Reads: 496
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Nov. 30, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 609
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Nov. 30, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 350