application integration


One of the features of the new world of services that SOA-gushers promoted was the notion of registries. Often this was described in terms of automated systems that would allow systems to automatically look up useful services in a registry and bind and consume those services all by themselves.

Well computers may look clever occasionally, but I didn't particularly buy that idea. While there might the be odd edge case for automated service lookup, I reckon twenty-two times out of twenty it'll be a human programmer who is doing the looking up.

I was chatting recently to my colleague Erik Dörnenburg about a project he did with Halvard Skogsrud to build a service registry that was designed for humans to use and maintain. The organization was already using ServiceCustodians to manage the development on the project, so the registry needed to work in that context. This led to the following principles:

The heart of the registry is a wiki that allows people to easily enter information on a particular service. Not just the builders of the service, but also people who've used it. After all users' opinions are often more useful than providers (I'm guessing product review sites get more traffic than the vendors' sites).

A wiki makes it easy for people to describe the service, but that relies on people having time to contribute. A wiki helps make that easy as you can just click and go, but there's still time involved. So they backed up the human entry with some useful information gathered automatically.

The point of a registry like this is that it does a lot of automated work to get information, but presents it in a way that expects a human reader. Furthermore it understands that the most important questions the human reader has are about the humans who have worked on the project: who are they, when did they work on this, who should I email, and where do I go for a really good caipirinha?


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application integration