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BPM and SOA: New Life for Desktop App Programmers

Publishers keep churning out articles about BPM, SOA and web services and how new and astoundingly different all this is. The basis of BPM is an SOA and services that you can call to accomplish the tasks you need to accomplish. In general, the services are loosely coupled (independent), and the system you are building orchestrates the services into a user-presentable application. The application probably has both user-driven events and system-driven events.

When I worked in a robotics lab (way back in the days of VAXen and Sun 3s) I used the X-Windows event dispatcher to handle sensor data and hardware events in mobile robots since the problem was reacting to many, sometimes simultaneous, events as quickly as possible. This looked a lot like building a GUI application and someone had already gone to the trouble of hacking out all that fast, efficient event-handling code.

Fast forward to all the Business Process Management and SOA talk and the underlying architecture looks a lot like a desktop apps model built around an event dispatcher. Instead of dealing with a single user, we're having to track events/state for hundreds of users, but otherwise it's similar. So rejoice, desktop programmers, the wheel is turning and all that knowledge about how to program this model will find another home in mainstream IT shops, albeit adjusted to fit a larger multi-user model.

As an FYI, the robots I was working on were giant metal robots, just like the ones Survival Research Labs makes. Back then, flames and explosions were accidental and snails could outpace the robots. I was born a generation too early to really enjoy robotics.


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