Beat the language barrier

Corba can make applications written in different languages interoperate seamlessly, writes Nick Langley

Corba can make applications written in different languages interoperate seamlessly, writes Nick Langley

What is it?

Common Object Request Broker Architecture (Corba) is a cross-platform standard for distributed application integration.

Microsoft has long been a member of the organisation behind Corba, the Object Management Group (OMG). However, Microsoft's DCom distributed application integration technology owes nothing to Corba.

In September last year, the OMG began standardising links between Corba and C#, the development language for Microsoft's .net Web services platform. C# will be able to make use of Corba services, and applications written in languages such as Cobol and Java will interoperate with C# via Corba.

Where did it originate?

The OMG was set up in 1989. Members include IBM, Sun, Cisco, Oracle, Borland, Iona, BEA and many user organisations. Alongside Corba, it provides the Unified Modelling Language (UML), is deeply involved in XML development and standardisation, recently took over responsibility for standards in datawarehousing, and has exchanged membership lists with the Gnome Foundation, which is behind one of the two leading Linux desktops.

What is it for?

Corba is used to make applications in different languages or on different platforms interoperate seamlessly. Any software object, old or new, in any language, once wrapped in the OMG's Interface Definition Language (IDL), can talk to any other IDL-wrapped object.

Corba provides all the services these applications need to work together. The Corba Interoperability platform was recently adopted by the International Organisation for Standards as ISO/IEC 19500-2.

What makes it special?

Use of Corba and other OMG standards gives freedom of choice over development languages, and enables legacy applications to be used as components of new applications.

How difficult is it?

Object technology has entered the mainstream and those with a Java or C++ background should have no difficulty. The leap is greater from C or Cobol.

Where is it used?

The telecoms industries were the first to take up Corba in a big way. It is now established in most sectors.

What does it run on?

Most operating systems, including Microsoft.

Not to be confused with

A Corby trouser press. A snake.

What's coming up?

The Enterprise Corba conference in London on 15-16 May will cover Corba integration with XML; application servers and J2EE; component standards, UML modelling and extensions; implementing Corba services; and Corba product updates. See

Rates of pay

Development and testing work involving Corba is generally better paid than that of Microsoft's object technologies, with salaries of £40,000 and sometimes much higher.

Analyst programmer £26,500

Systems developer £34,750

Senior systems analyst £35,000

Project manager £52,667

Source: CW/SSP Survey January 2001


Several providers of Corba products offer training. See Iona and Borland, for example. There is a list of OMG members offering training at Try also and

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