Article

Developers hold key to reuse of software code

John Hogan

Reuse of software code for building Web services will be much easier than earlier attempts at code reuse that were based on object-oriented component models, according to new research. How much easier reuse will be depends on whether an organization's developers are mules, sheep or top performers.

In a recently released report, Forrester Research, of Cambridge, Mass., said that earlier promises of code reuse through Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), Component Object Model (COM) and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) delivered only mixed results, leaving developers feeling burned.

Now, similar promises are being made about Web services. However, Forrester said, Web services have a better chance of reuse success because they have wider industry acceptance, they are easier to develop and Web-based registries will make their code easier for developers to find.

"The reuse dream is alive, but a one-size-fits-all Web services education and communication approach will fail," said Forrester analyst Joshua Walker, author of the report.

Three types of developers

Walker said the success of reusing Web services code will ultimately come down to whether IT managers learn to recognize which of three personality categories their developers fit into, and then properly motivate them based on that knowledge.

Stubborn developers are those who like things as they are and have deep skepticism about undertaking a project that will require them to do more work. Walker said code reuse will appeal to this type of developer because they don't mind taking advantage of others' work. They can be pointed toward developer portals that offer a repository of Web services code and registries.

"Sheep" developers are willing to give code reuse a try, but are leery of jumping too quickly to new technologies such as Web services. Walker said these types of developers need to be shown with real applications how projects such as data integration have been done in the past, and how they can be done more efficiently today through Web services and the reuse of its code.

Top-performing developers understand the value of reusing code because they are heavily tasked with projects, but they view standards such as Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) as things that will just slow them down. Walker said the best way to motivate this group is to reward them either financially or through "ego-stroking" recognition. He also said companies should reward those developers who reuse code in creative ways.

"Companies building service-oriented architectures want to teach their developers new Web services standards such as WSDL, UDDI and SOAP," Walker said in the report. "But most developers don't need to memorize these acronyms. Keep it simple. New tools will facilitate reuse."

DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS:

COM

CORBA

J2EE

SOAP

UDDI

WSDL


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