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Retire the Tenets?

Harry Pierson states: “Retire the Tenets”.  John Heintz agrees by dismissing the Four Tenets as useless:

There is one other thing about SOA that drives me bonkers. I’m hooked on architecture by constraint - limit the system in certain key areas to promote certain use and benefits. The four tenets of SOA don’t do it to me at all.

Well, tenets are just that: tenets. Don Box and many others explained these tenets. Just “google” for the “four tenets” and see for yourself. Principles, guidelines and best practices might be drawn from the tenets. Granted the tenets may not be used as a map to solid service oriented design, but they started a different way of looking at distributed computing (in the MS world and in others, too). They started a discussion about service oriented principles, which all to some extend are based on the ideas expressed by the tenets.

Harry Pierson concludes that the four tenets had been “designed to help the Windows developer community wrap their heads around some of the implications of messaging and service orientation”. In a way the four tenets just expressed, what “almost” everybody outside the MS world knew already. Their only use was to impress that single truth in the brains of “DCOM, MTS and VB” developers. Now, that’s been done:

I would say that the tenets’ job is done and it’s time to retire them. Once you accept the service-oriented paradigm, what further guidance do the tenets provide? Not much, if any.

In a perfect (service oriented) world maybe I would agree. But has this paradigm shift taken place? Are “Platform vendors […] falling over themselves to ship service/messaging stacks like WCF” and do “most developers […] look at these stacks for the next systems they build”? Most important: do these platforms and stacks (fully) adhere to the principles, which are based on a truth almost everybody knew already?

I don’t think so! WCF might be used in a fully service-oriented way: message-oriented, document-based, contract and policy driven. The common guidance looks different, though. Have a look at ASMX, WCF, Axis 2 and all other SOAP stacks:

Just write the classes, we’ll generate your contract and policy and throw in some XML (De)Serialization for good.

WCF Contracts are still CLR-Classes, not Schema or Contract. There isn’t even a standard procedure for validating the message against the schema (just an XML Deserialization, which does the job, well, at least for the most simple cases).

John and Harry, do you really think that every developer has adopted to the message-oriented paradigm and that “service orientation is mainstream”? I’m afraid not. As long as the CLR/JVM/…-First approach is proclaimed by the vendors and the masses listen and follow, the four tenets are far from retirement!

Posted by Hartmut Wilms at 14.08.07 20:36

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