What is it?
In its Componentware report Ovum says, "Object oriented software design methods view a software system as a set of interacting objects, rather than as a set of functions. A software object represents some 'thing'. An object owns some data, which represents the attributes of the 'thing', and also owns a set of operations that read and write to that data."
Where did it originate?
Microsoft has Component Object Model (Com) and Distributed Com (DCom). The Object Management Group has Common Object Request Broker Architecture (Corba). The 800 or so OMG members include suppliers such as Inprise (Visibroker), Novell, Oracle, Compaq, IBM (Component Broker) and Iona (Orbix) and users, including Merrill Lynch, Daimler Benz, Amex, UBS, Time Warner, American Airlines, Ford and Shell.
Corba is an independent, cross-platform standard that provides a single infrastructure for distributed application integration. It has its own component model and scripting language. The OMG's Interface Definition Language (IDL) is used to create interfaces between objects in different languages - including chunks of legacy code.
Com is a software architecture that allows applications to be built from binary software components. It is the underlying architecture that forms the foundation for higher-level software services, like those provided by OLE.
Com+ builds on Com's integrated services and features, making it easier for developers to create and use software components in any language, using any tool.
DCom is a protocol that enables software components to communicate directly over a network. It is designed for use across multiple network transports, including Internet protocols such as HTTP. DCom will work with both Java applets and ActiveX components.
What's it for?
Developing reusable, portable, interoperable code.
What makes it special?
When developers work to the same object standards, their objects should be able to work together. There are various bridge products which enable Com-to-Corba interoperability.
How difficult is it?
You will need solid programming experience, preferably in C++, which will provide the introduction to object concepts.
Where is it used?
In organisations whose need to seek competitive advantage from technology keeps them near the bleeding edge - and who have money to spend. Most of the growth in use of object oriented development is taking place in the finance and telecom sectors.
Not to be confused with
Cobra Indian lager, anything ending in dotcom.
What does it run on?
Corba can be used on pretty much any platform. Com and DCom are confined to Microsoft's operating systems.
Few people know that
Microsoft is a member of the OMG.
What's coming up?
Com-to-Corba interworking for Windows 2000.
Rates of pay
Object development skills can command a premium, and many go contracting. This scarcity has forced up the salaries on offer to permanent staff. With one year's Corba or Com and solid C++, you could be looking at £30,000-plus. The Orb Agency specialises in Corba placements, but its firstname.lastname@example.org Web site is also worth looking at for EJB and Com placements.
|Team leader analyst programmer||£46,000|
|Senior analyst programmer||£32,500|
Source: SSP/Computer weekly Survey, January 2000
You can find a comprehensive list of Com and Dcom training, including CD-based self-study and online training, at www. microsoft.com/com/. Training companies offering Corba courses include Valtek, QA Training, Semaphore and Parallax. Systems integrators and consultants like Cap Gemini also provide training, as do suppliers such as Iona, although this will usually be geared towards end-user organisations. For details of Corba training worldwide, visit www.omg.com.
QA Training: 01285-655888
Semaphore: 020-7779 8794
Valtech: 020-7307 2300
This was first published in April 2000