A place to be (re)educated in Newspeak

Friday, March 16, 2007


A lurid headline is a proven way of grabbing attention. SOBs are Serviced Objects, objects that can be downloaded to your machine from a server, and thereafter serviced by it. Any modifications you make to the SOB get saved on the server, and any updates to the SOB by the service provider get delivered to you automatically. The former provides the SOB (and you) with backup, audit trail, and sharing across multiple users or devices. The latter provides for bug fixes and feature updates to the SOB on an ongoing basis.

All of this sounds suspiciously like a web app, except the fact that the SOB gets downloaded - which means it is available off line, can use all the features of your machine and in general doesn’t suffer the limitations of web apps. Another important distinction is that the core underlying technology is hotswapping, so the applications don’t need to be restarted when updated.

I’ve given a number of talks about this over the past few years; the latest was at Google earlier this month. Since that talk is available via Google Video, I thought I’d bring up the topic here.

The term I usually use for this idea is Objects as Software Services. It is more descriptive than SOB, but could be confused with generic stuff like SOAs and conventional web apps. Another descriptive name would be Live Network-Serviced Applications (LNSA). The “live” distinguishes them from most existing NSAs, which typically need to be taken down before being updated.

This leads to us to NSOOP, Network-Serviced Object Oriented Programming, and its support via NSOOPLs (NSOOP Languages). Though I just made these terms up, that is a big part of what the talk is about: language and platform features that enable LNSAs.

If this interests you, please see the talk. There are also earlier slides, and a brief write up.