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2005.05.26

Today's Dynamic is Tomorrow's Static

Today at the IEEE Software's editorial and advisory board meeting, the issue of service-oriented architectures came up. Robert Glass wondered whether this was the upcoming fad, following structured programming and object-oriented programming, to which Stan Rifkin replied that service-oriented architectures are a lot more dynamic. Interestingly, the previous approaches, which we today consider as static, were also thought-off as dynamic in their day.

In the era of assembly programs and FORTRAN, structured programming broke up large static linear sequences of code into smaller blocks that could be dynamically combined by programmers with more flexibility. Of course, today we regard structured programs as a static concept. Then, object-oriented programming allowed the statically determined function calls to be replaced by the dynamic dispatch of method calls according to the runtime type of the corresponding object. Of course, today we regard object-oriented programs as a static concept. Now, service-oriented architectures allow different systems to dynamically link in a distributed fashion to create complete services at runtime.

In the future we may regard service-oriented architectures as static too. In a discussion I had on this subject with Stan Rifkin, he commented that, in ten years, even the specifications of the services might be determined at runtime, according to the software's changing needs.

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