[...] when I'm reaching for a complicated solution for connecting applications together, Fm probably not the first person to think of it and there are probably already one or more obvious, drastically simpler solutions in place already. [...] when there's a choice of simpler solutions, the bigger, more established standard usually wins.
» libraries in computers by daniel chudnov Information Technology Specialist Office of Strategic Initiatives Library of Congress Connecting Applications Together the Web Way I’VE BEEN I’ve been obsessing over how to connect Both my front end and the remote back end web applications to each other for as long as were on the web, and the PHP language had I’ve been a working librarian. This obsession recently gained a function called “include()” OBSESSING dates from my start at my first job. When I that could fetch the data from a URL and look back through the intervening years and read it right in for you inside your code. OVER HOW TO squint just right, a few lessons emerge about When I saw that it worked, I ripped out all how technology changes and when my obses- that expensive plumbing and connected the sion-driven expectations about these changes front end to the back end by having the front CONNECT WEB are either met or are way off the mark. end get data from the back end with a simple I was pretty certain, early in my career, HTTP call (i.e., a plain old web request). That APPLICATIONS that there was a future in this concept we call was easy! I’d spent months imagining a com- “mashups,” only nobody was calling it that plicated solution was required before I real- yet, and we didn’t even have the name “web ized that lots of other people had long before TO EACH services” yet either. The arrival of services me had the same need, so they just baked a such as PubMed, though—with their rich simple solution right there into the language OTHER FOR AS data sources, standard URL patterns for I was using. My app got simpler, smaller, and queries, and specifying details about result more cost-effective, and I was able to focus on sets—coincided with my start as a hacker/li- making it better instead of having to con- LONG AS I’VE brarian in a real job at a medical library. So, stantly fiddle with making the back end con- of course, I hacked up a few mashup views of nection work. With all that new free time, I BEEN A data from PubMed. At first, I worked on a figured out a way to make the system link au- novel graphical local user interface (UI). Back tomatically to online journal articles from the in 1997, I thought I needed to use Common abstracts. After that, I figured out how to WORKING Object Request Broker Architecture (if you bring a system online that let other people don’t know, don’t ask!) to wire up the graph- connect abstracts to articles too. The simple LIBRARIAN. ical UI front end to the PubMed data source solution to supporting this was to make the back end, because they were different sys- data in my system easily queried with a sim- tems (one local, one remote) and I wrote a lot ple URL pattern, just like PubMed had done of plumbing to connect them together. This in allowing me to mash up its data. This so- took lots of work, lots of money, and a lot of lution was a precursor to the OpenURL software design, but a funny thing happened model, and several people were able to mash once I got it working. I didn’t need any spe- up my mashup to work inside their own li- cial plumbing, let alone expensive plumbing. brary sites. This worked for several years » www.infoto
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