CORBA did what?

Long-time blog reader Dilip Ranganathan pointed me to this discussion over on Steve Vinoski’s blog about the history of CORBA, and in particular the discussion that ensued in the comments section on the entry. I found it interesting from two perspectives:

  1. The idea that two people could look at the history of CORBA (having presumably lived through it) and come away with entirely different ideas of what that history was, and
  2. The discussion over CORBA’s role and influence on the current XML services environment.

For starters, Steve Vinoski was a bit miffed at the idea posited by Mark Baker that CORBA failed. Sorry, Steve, I have to say it, but I agree with Mark–CORBA never fulfilled on its intended promise of seamless middleware interoperability and integration capabilities, and certainly not over the Internet in any meaningful way. By the time CORBA began to address some of those issues–firewalls being a big one–the world had already pretty much abandoned both the “distributed object brokers” (the other being COM/DCOM) and were starting to explore HTTP as the be-all, end-all transport protocol.

But the discussion that comes out of Steve’s challenge that CORBA didn’t fail is to me the far more interesting point–the discussion of whether the WS-* stack is loosely coupled or not. See, if CORBA’s failure was that it was a too tightly-coupling technology to allow for good integration between companies (as Mark Baker asserts in the discussion), then we have to be careful regarding how tightly we couple endpoints and interfaces in the WSDL world, as well. And this is where I wholly agree with Mr. Baker: I look at the current crop of WSDL-based implementations, and their IDL-cum-WSDL interface descriptions (usually generated from shudder a language interface), and I see the same mistakes being made.

The discussion continues, but rather than try to summarize it (and probably get it wrong, given my current state of exhaustion), I suggest you head over and have a look. If you’re into the XML services space at all, you owe it to yourself… and your clients… to do so.