Wednesday, December 07, 2005

SOA: Like Ludwig Did It

What are the qualities one wants from federated aka, 'mashup' pages built over services?

  • Seamlessness: no big glaring boo boos in format or behavior.

  • Reliability: no piece mysteriously failing and causing the other pieces to look bad

  • Composability: pieces can be assembled together quickly and intuitively

Web components should fit together as neatly as Ludvig Von Beethoven's music and assemble as easily as Adobe Audition. Music tools are always about a decade ahead of the rest of the software industry; so if like other aphoristic models of technical development (see Moore's Law), I should get this eventually.

For my Christmas card this year, I recorded Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" doing all of the characters (except the Cratchits: my wife and kids took those parts), narration, sound effects, etc. I used Adobe Audition to do that in case that is interesting. Audition is good easy to use multitrack recording and mastering software with plenty of clean effects and an intuitive interface. But the real serendipity was choosing to use Ludvig Von's music over composing my own.


Beethoven and Dickens are close in era, so in timing, tone and theme, they are quite composable and reliable, but the delight is that Beethoven's works are seamless. I avoided the 'hits' (say Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata, opening of the Fifth, etc.) and grabbed bits of lesser known pieces and inner pieces of the symphonies. Some of these were composed years, even decades apart and recorded by different performers in different periods. Using various recordings both vinyl and CD, I had to do some serious click and pop removal but, that is what Audition does well.

They fit together seamlessly. The effect is as my wife says, 'enchanting'.

Web Services Should Work Like Beethoven's Music: you can slice it and dice it and it just works. The level of knowledge of keys, transitions, melodic development, chordal progressions, dynamics and orchestration required are enormous yet almost all of his works are memorable, hummable and accessible. When he applied technical virtuosity, it was in service of the dynamic perceived by the user as emotional anticipation, fulfillment and release, not the performer's angst about playing fast and accurately on the device of the day. It's a high standard for musicians and I wonder if there are similar prodigies in the world of software services.

That is the challenge for the mashup component builder. When someone puts the services together, they have to just work. I can get that fromBeethoven.

The question would be, what would be the experience if I tried that with Beethoven and Mozart and Bach and Schumann. The challenge of today's software behemoths is exactly that: what happens if I take your components and mash them together? Will they just work? Will certain melodies stand out garishly in bad taste where taste matters? Or is it a matter of taste where taste is knowing what to choose or to stick to one company just as I stuck to Beethoven even with that Mozart CD staring at me like Marley on the knocker?

If we are to pick common formats, we should choose based on the ability of the web service builder to compose, mashup, and serve up without seams, without glaring bugs, and with the ease of putting together slices in sequencing/recording systems that are to web pages what Adobe Audition is to audio production. If Enterprise Engineering is to come to the Service Oriented Architecture, that's what we need for productivity.

Having discovered the joy of working with dead collaborators who don't object to me remixing their work, I plan to work with more famous decomposers in the future.

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