Get ready for TheServerSide Interoperability Blog

By Jack Vaughan

You can build a world of your own, but would you want to live there? That story has played out in the computer business over and over. At some point heterogeneous environments have to interoperate, and, actually, that is a good thing. But how fine or coarse should interoperability be? Once again, the answer is ‘it depends.”

Ted Neward emphasized this point when we caught up with him at the recent SD Best Practices 2006 East conference in Boston. Neward, former TheServerSide.NET editor and now a top-industry expert and pundit, led a session that took a unique view inside interoperability.

Interoperability has long been a prime area of interest for Neward. In 2004, he wrote a paper on .NET and Java: A Study in Interoperability. It is still worth a look-at:

Making two platforms interact is at once a simple and difficult problem. Simple, in that it’s a fairly closed-requirements solution: if I can work out a few technical details, interaction is achieved. It’s also fairly easy to achieve success–if they can talk, you did it, if not, there’s still work to go. In fact, once you’ve worked out low-level issues like byte order, file/data format, and hardware compatibility, basic interaction between any two platforms is pretty straightforward. (As a matter of fact on this basis was the Internet built.)

Since 2004, Web services have a risen as a more popular means to achieve interoperability. But Web services are not universally popular, and they are, in fact, just one of several means to obtain interop. After his SD East presentation, TheServerSide.NET staff was able to sit down to lunch with Neward, and, over ribs, oysters and enough fries to feed a football team, he inked-out [on a brown paper table cover] his view of interoperability which takes three basic shapes of in-proc, out-of-proc and resource sharing. Sometimes, he has noted, we lose site of useful interoperability options such as using JDBC, and enabling a Java app to write date to an RDB that a .NET program can access via ADO.NET. Of course there are many more ways to connect. Among the means that Neward often discusses are the In-proc methods such as JNI bridges, Juggernaut, and IKVM.

We took Neward’s impromptu brown-paper schema back home, and we took it to heart. Aren’t the best thoughts describable on paper napkins or the like?  Software architects and developers are confronted every day with interoperability tasks, ones they often avoid. It is sometimes necessary to really do some special upfront thinking - to think outside the box – in order to create clever interop apps. Too often, a Java developer or .a NET developer might tear up a bunch of functions that already work in one platform or the other, just to completely redo the app on the single platform they are most familiar with.  Neward’s views on interoperability will be a major focus of this, TheServerSide Interoperability Blog. But other notable interop experts will be involved too. We are looking for lively comment on interoperability. We ask you to take part too. The comment lines are open!

Inline XSD inclusion and WSDL

A large part of the apparent complexity of WSDL has nothing to do with WSDL at all; it was rather caused by the inline inclusion of XSDs in the section, writes Tomas Restrepo. He advises to create schemas separately and then import them into your WSDL contracts, and uses Thinktecture’s WSCF tool in this regard.

Java/.NET databinding

JAXB provides databinding support when developing interoperable Java clients and service providers that interoperate with Microsoft .NET clients and services providers. It is a key part of Project Tango (aka WSIT - Web Service Interoperability Technology), which recently reached a Milestone 2 binary.

ColdFusion .Net Integration

Raymond Camden of roundpeg, a web development company, offers some notes on ColdFusion .NET integration issues.

j-Interop has reached Rel. 1.10 B

The software implements DCOM wire protocol (MSRPC) to enable development of Pure Bi-Directional, Non-Native, Java applications which can interoperate with any COM component. 

Interop Plugfest: SOAP, Tango, Glassfish and WSDL

TheServerSide.NET’s Jack Vaughan posed some questions on interoperability to Microsoft’s Jorgen Thelin shortly after a recent Interop Plugfest in Redmond. Thelin is senior program manager, Connected Systems Interoperability Standards. He said that, in the relatively short time that SOAP has been around, interoperability has improved.At each of the several ‘plug-fests,’  he said: “We’ve seen more companies covering more specification areas and getting more tests to pass. There are still a few minor areas where companies are working on finishing their product implementations and fixing bugs uncovered during the interop testing, but overall the industry is in a great shape.”

He continued: “Most of the bugs we uncover during these interoperability testing events now have changed significantly from the type of questions that we got in the early days. Rather than questions like how particular data types should be represented in SOAP messages on the wire, we now see higher level concerns like whether a WS-ReliableMessaging endpoint is sending the right protocol messages in the expected order when combined with WS-SecureConversation, or whether a program is signed the right parts of a SOAP message with the right digital signature mechanisms specified in the security policy for a web service.”  Read more

Policy Assertion Namespace Change in WCF

Issues arise with WCF RC1 policy assertion namespace URI to declare the usage of Member Submission WS-Addressing. The namespace was changed from:

Fixes are in the works. And workarounds until then.

Running Java on Vista Disabled Aero/Glass UI Effects

Interesting, it seems that in the most recent post-RC1 build of Vista when you run Java applications (either Swing based or SWT-based, like Eclipse) not only are the Aero/Glass effects disabled for the individual application, but completely disabled on the desktop until you close the Java application.

Call Java from Excel Services? Yes you can!

This is an example ofwhat is possible when web services is baked into the platform. Excel Services in MOSS 2007 supports the creation of User-Defined Functions (UDFs) in .NET. The .NET methods show us as @ functions within the Excel spreadsheet, pretty nifty. Inside the UDF function, which is just a normal vanilla .NET method, you can do … a lot.