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Monday, January 03, 2005

On Messages and Files, and the Rest of the Future of Data  

Patrick Logan

From working on systems in a half dozen domains I have come to the conclusion there are three simple patterns we should lean on for making documents and messages persistent.

  • Tuples Spaces (think Ruple Forums) for in-progress, state machine-like transactions and collaboration.
  • Versioned document trees (think Subversion's file system) for long-lived, shared, document editing.
  • Star Schema-based storage (think Sybase IQ, a simple, low-maintenance, scalable database technology) for read-only transaction history and analysis.

I deeply believe (it is my hypothesis) that these are the only patterns you need, and the implementations going forward can become far simpler and adaptable than all of today's cruft. As for "messaging" (the gerund, i.e. SOAP and its ilk), WS-xxx is a band wagon approach toward more complexity. Messaging protocols are a means to an end (i.e. getting a message into one of these persistent "end point like" locations). All collaboration can take place via these "persistence" mechanisms. They are actually coordination mechanisms, and persistence is a by-product since collaboration is frequently different-time and/or different-place, and even when computing is solo or collaboration is same-time and same-place, you often would like a history.

Topics: Architecture | Patterns


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