Tuesday, September 28, 2004

WS Complexity

Lots of discussion about the WS Stack. [Now Economy] [LooselyCoupled]

Some people complain about the emerging form of the WS Stack. Tim Bray (Sun Microsystems) asserted that it is "bloated, opaque and obscenely complex", and this has prompted loads of other bloggers to chip in against the baroque process and products of WS-standardization.

Firstly, there is nothing against complexity. If the requirements are complex, then the solution should be complex, and the complexity should be built up progressively. From the paradigm of complex systems (cf Chris Alexander and the Nature of Order) the emergence of the WS Stack from a confederation of committees may be entirely appropriate. The coherence of the WS Stack should be maintained by the composability of the WS bits and pieces.

Technocratic voices say the complexity is being pushed into the platform. Pragmatic voices (Eric Newcomer, Eric again, Lawrence Wilkes) say you just use the bits you want. Let's focus on compositions that have been shown to work.

But new bits of WS-Stuff keep appearing, and it is hard to keep track of them all, let alone work out how (and when) to use them properly. Every web service application / implementation may compose a different subset of the WS Stack for its own purposes, in its particular context of use. Thus the WS Stack has a variable geometry – constantly taking on a different shape, with different architectural properties.

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