Middleware as Underwear: 
Toward a More Mature Approach to 
Compositional Software Development

Jack C. Wileden
University of Massachusetts, Department of Computer Science
Box 34610, Amherst, MA 01003-4610 USA
wileden@cs.umass.edu, http://www-ccsl.cs.umass.edu/~jack
Alan Kaplan
Clemson University, Department of Computer Science
Box 341906, Clemson, SC 29634-1906 USA
kaplan@cs.clemson.edu, http://www.cs.clemson.edu/~kaplan

Toward Maturity and Propriety

Middleware architectures and technologies seem to have been at the center of most recent efforts toward compositional software. As a result, a plethora of middleware technologies have appeared over the last several years. Various organizations (OMG, ODMG, Microsoft, JavaSoft, etc.) have been producing increasingly elaborate middleware solutions. Is this the route to maturity for compositional software?

We think not. Indeed, we take the position that middleware should appropriately be considered the underwear of compositional software development. As such, propriety dictates that it should not be the center of attention. More specifically, we believe that middleware resembles underwear in that:

Toward a Mature Attitude on Middleware

We believe that a truly mature discipline for compositional software development will minimize the need for attention to middleware. Toward that end, we advocate the following directions that, among others, may help to restore some propriety in this area:


The views and positions expressed here have evolved from research that was supported in part by Texas Instruments and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They have also been influenced by our interactions with numerous colleagues. These views and positions, and the way in which we've expressed them here, however, are our own and no endorsement of them by sponsors or colleagues should be inferred.


[BKW96] Barrett, D.J., Kaplan, A. and Wileden, J.C., Automated Support for Seamless Interoperability in Polylingual Software Systems, Proceedings SIGSOFT96: Fourth Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, October 1996, pp. 147--155.

[BRW97] Barrett, D.J., Ridgway, J.V.E. and Wileden, J.C., Assuring Type Safety in Polylingual Software Systems, September 1997, 10 pp. (submitted).

[KMRW96] Kaplan, A., Myrestrand, G.A., Ridgway, J.V.E. and Wileden, J.C., Our SPIN on Persistent Java: The JavaSPIN Approach, Proceedings First International Workshop on Persistence and Java, September 1996, 11 pp. URL: http://www.sunlabs.com/research/forest/UK.Ac.Gla.Dcs.PJW1.pj1.html

[KRW97] Kaplan, A. Ridgway, J.V.E. and Wileden, J.C., Why IDLs Are Not Ideal, November 1997, 8 pp. (submitted).

[KW96] Kaplan, A. and Wileden, J.C., Toward Painless Polylingual Persistence, Proceedings Seventh International Workshop on Persistent Object Systems, May 1996, pp. 11--22.

[RTW97] Ridgway, J.V.E., Thrall, C. and Wileden, J.C., Toward Assessing Approaches to Persistence for Java, Proceedings Second International Workshop on Persistence and Java, August 1997, 21 pp. (to appear). URL: http://www.sunlabs.com/research/forest/COM.Sun.Labs.Forest.PJava.PJW2.pjw2.html

[WWRT91] Wileden, J.C., Wolf, A.L., Rosenblatt, W.R. and Tarr, P.L., Specification Level Interoperability, Communications of the ACM, 34:5, May 1991, pp. 72--87. --tr7ifeQepk Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit --tr7ifeQepk--