The Church of Objectology

Rohit Khare (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 12:44:54 -0400

A pundit recently asked me about ideas for a pontification session
aimed at some OO weenies. I decided to offer some bland, tangential
points --

>What would I say to rile up OOheads, as a recovering OOer myself?
>learning from the split between FoRK and dist-obj, the best attack is
>to sow doubt about their entire religion.
>The Church of Objectology has become wildly successful in recent
>Once just a crazy notion in some Norwegian prophet's head, it's
>a subject of genteel profits to a legion of wide-eyed consultants. No
>longer the wandering tribes of doctorates, cursed by the fall of the
>Tower of Parc to forever speak SmallTalk, now they are thick upon the
>land. Ultimately, though, bereft of ultimate papal authority (and
>Jesuit shock troops to keep the independent thinkers in line), it has
>fragmented into a long line of sects around latter-day saints, the
>In every corner of the world, they spun (separate) views about the
>Coming of Intergalactic Distributed Objects (a genuine OMG term!). Lo
>and behold, just as dramatically as object devotees were being fed to
>the lions in the late 80's, the client-server Revelations of the 90's
>made them leaders among men. The imminent triumph of compound-document

>apis, component software, and oo databases gave hope to the huddled
>masses of COBOL developers (who were redeemed by the grace of
>Stroustroup though OOcobol)
>But, lo, Armageddon has struck, and the forces of IS Order are
>everywhere by the chaotic dogs of Webs, ad-hoc Patterns, and
>departmental Intranets. The Objectology flock remain devotedly blind
>the smoldering slag-heap of its dawning 90's dreams: gone are
>fourth-party agent libraries, and oo filesystems. Yea, the leaders
>we are upon the road to Cairo, but indeed, we are blinded by the dust
>storms of change, one day in Chicago, the next in Memphis, someday
>in Olympia.
>While you celebrate the seeming success of IIOP, CORBA repositories,
>and all the rest of OMG's predictions in the "Year of CORBA", in
>you may be losing the battle under your noses. Do not act so smug
>sitting atop your Java ORBs, because in fact, you are arguing small
>infrastructural victories while the momentum of development has moved
>away from carefully-planned, methodologized-half-to-death Holy Grail
>systems to ad-hoc, rapidly evolving Web components.
>Strucutured class/component marketplaces are losing ground to opaque
>no-user-serviceable-parts VBXs. Collaborative, multi-user compound
>document architectures are being replaced by HTML, baling wire,
>JavaScript, and spit. Structured, semantically meaningful ultrafast
>OODB filesystem replacements have been shunted aside by... HTTP?!
>Everywhere, Objectology is beseiged by Worse is Better (TM). Look at
>you -- you're embarking on designing a new version of IIOP, and I
>you're willing to bend over backwards as long as it converges with
>HTTP-NG -- a golden calf indeed!
>But... maybe you have something to be scared about. Worse, in fact,
>be better. Why are your carefully planned customer service support
>systems getting blown out of the water by a summer intern's web
>for Marketing? Why is the employee identification database project
>sidelined in favor of home page indexes on the Intranet. How,
>did your component documentation repository get replaced by Alta
>and javadoc? Why are the barbarians at the gate, hurling their
>spaghetti CGIs over the walls?
>Because, gentlemen and gentlewomen, you religion is too strong. If
>stare long enough at the Magic Eye Shroud, everything looks like an
>object. But the masses are taking a digital photograph, slapping it
>a web page, and calling it the Magic Eye Shroud homepage, and *that's
>it*. No further steps, no integration, no documented interfaces,
>nothing that smells of object religion anywhere. Look at a product
>catalog on the web: are there not part pages, with prices and photos
>and descriptions and see also links? Indeed, are those web pages not
>the shadows of objects we'd like to have living in our systems?
>Why yes, they are, and we are playing Borg: we are seemingly
>assimilating the Web into our religion by deigning to recast our
>interfaces as FORMs, gateway CORBA sessions through CGI/cookies, and
>publishing our databases as HTML.
>The tide is running the opposite direction, though. How do we extract
>-- not impose -- order on the flood of information our enterprises
>already putting on the Web? Why *can't* we build an order-entry
>that uses the Web as its catalog rather than the other way around?
>Ex1. Companies like webMethods are turning pages into objects: they
>have a service which goes around and extracts an interface for a
>companies' package-tracking FORMs, palettizes them, and allows
>user/developers to easily compose a metatracker which can track a
>of packages across the entire set in minutes.
>Ex 2. HTML is not a dumb rendering format for databases -- XML may
>make it the SOURCE format for databases. Soon, part number won't be
>conventionalized as "third bold phrase from the right", it'll be
><PART>xxx</PART>. Can you believe that XML Document Type Definitions
>might displace IDL?
>Ex 3. HTTP is not a brainless host protocol for IIOP to parasite off
>to hitch a ride across firewalls. With 1.1, it has picked up
>caching powers and reasonable security. How does your OO system cache
>and replicate data structures?
>documents are objects.
>And end-users create lots of documents.
>Without consulting class hierarchies or repositories.
>And they slap on some applets and scripts
>And they go use robotic services to index, locate, and pay for this
>Where's the Intergalactic Distributed Object future now? on the Web.
>And perhaps, just perhaps, it won't deign to be assimilated into
>Objectology. Occam's Razor may be at your throat... The world is
>reaping the rewards without the religion.