Corba, Web Services and Mono

by Miguel de Icaza

A good friend was asking me about why I had abandoned CORBA (I did not). Here is my response:

On the CORBA question: I have not particularly abandoned the idea of CORBA. It was just that CORBA as a platform to solve the multi-lingual issue was too hard (too huge of an investment, steep learning curve). In fact, I would like to use more of IIOP as a replacement for remoting and web services in key places.

I think that *some* elements of CORBA are extremely useful and are better than many of the Microsoft proposed APIs/protocols, but the problem with CORBA is that you must move carefully: it is too easy to get trapped in that world of standards and try to implement and use everything.

Some bits of CORBA are extraordinary, but teaching it is hard given the large scope of it: what pieces of it must be ignored and what pieces are followed is a tricky part.

I think the Next Generation Web Services (WS-*) world has reached the same level of complexity that CORBA achieved in an effort to satisfy the users requests. It seems that WS-* is a victim of its own success: once SOAP web services could be produced and consumed easily with `netcat', but today, realistically to integrate with any of the advanced features you need a stack as complete and as complex as the various CORBA implementations.

Web Services were pushed in the same direction that CORBA was used, and it started to get used in places where CORBA was used, and they ended up with pretty much the same thing CORBA had, and sadly without some of the benefits of it. Not a particularly fascinating subject.

Speaking of fascinating technologies, a few ex-CORBA people went to create a new RPC stack with a very precise set of features at ZeroC. It is called Ice

I first heard about Ice from Vladimir, who wrote his own implementation of the protocol in C#. It is available from the Mono CVS repository, and is a subset the features offered by ZeroC's product. ZeroC's product is dual licensed: GPL and Commercial and today they support Java and PHP with a C# version in the works.

Posted on 27 Jun 2004