Wednesday 13 February 2008

Workshop on Web services, business processes and infrastructure

I attended a really good workshop last week and thought that I should probably blog a bit about what it was all about. There were some really good presentations. To the authors of these, alas sorry I missed a couple so I cannot blog about those I missed. But here goes ....

There was lot on global models during the course of the two days and a lot on session types (these are the types that WS-CDL was based upon and provides a behavioral type checking facility to determine liveness properties - i.e. does it deadlock or livelock and so on).

Several papers stood out for me.

There was one from Andy Gordon on F# - a formally grounded language for encoding data centre run books, similar in intent to that used at one of my old companies Enigmatec Corporation Ltd. What Andy has done is formalise a language for managing data centre, which when you step back and think about managing such assets really does have to be precise so formalisation is really important.

There was one from Joshua Guttman on global models (using WS-CDL) and security. Great paper because it added contextual security based on process. Something I have longed to see but have never had the ammunition to consider.

There was one from Mark Little about distribution and scalability which was very enlightening and showed many of the issues that concern today's web based applications and what we need to focus on to describe and manage transactions in an unreliable context (see link to mark on my links).

There was one on Sock and Jolie from Claudio Guidi's and colleague. Sock being the formal model and Jolie and implementation that enables complex systems of services to be enacted using a curly brace language (Jolie). They gave a great demo too.

There were a couple on session-based languages that really stood out. The first was from on her work on OO Languages with session types and the second was from Ray Hu on Distributed Java. The latter, which I have seen before, added a few jars which abstract communication away. Coupled with what is akin to an interface in Java but is actually a session type documenting behavior between processes it provided really good session typing and checking to ensure things work correctly between processes. For me this fits the bill as regards language extensions to Java that make Java a good end-point language with a strng notion of contract.

One paper dealt with a topic very close to my heart which is how can we use a global model (aka WS-CDL) to find services that meet the necessary behavioral footprint expressed as roles in WS-CDL If we could do this then when we write down out SOA blueprint for both existing systems and extensions we wish to make we can ensure a higher degree of reuse, not just at a functional matching level but at a behavioral level. The work is by Mario Bravetti and I hope very much that we can get Mario involved in the Foundation to help us move this to a reality for many people.

On some more comerically oriented presentations there was one from Matthew Rawlings and one from Dave Frankel. These two dealt with the realities of modeling and documenting standards that are very complex. Matthew is well known as an Architect and deep thinker in financial services and Dave is well known as one of the key people behind UML

The final paper I wanted to mention was given by my long time colleague, Gary Brown. The Foundation which was started by Gary and I has moved on. WS-CDL is where it is but we embarked (well less me and much more Gary and Kohei Honda) on looking at how better to describe global models. And so Scribble was born. Gary presented Scribble and in particular showed a simple HelloWorld process and how it is represented in WS-CDL and in Scribble. Scribble was great! It is early days for Scribble and I am aware that Scribble will try to be compatible with WS-CDL (so don't wait) but it is so clearly the was to go and I look forward to using it when it has all been done.

Thanks to the organisers (Marco Carbone, Nobuko Yoshida and Kohei Honda). It was very stimulating indeed.

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