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Distributed objects are the next wave in Internet innovation. CORBA, the Common Object Request Broker Architecture defined by the Object Management Group (OMG), specifies how software objects distributed over a network can work together without regard to client and server operating systems and programming languages.

CORBA is a complete distributed object platform. It extends applications across networks, languages, component boundaries, and operating systems. A CORBA Object Request Broker (ORB) connects a client application with the objects it wishes to use. The client application does not need to know whether the object resides on the same computer or on a remote computer elsewhere on the network. The client application needs to know only two pieces of information: the object's name and how to use the object's interface. The ORB takes care of the details of locating the object, routing the request, and returning the result.

Overview of CORBA

The Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is an emerging open distributed object computing infrastructure being standardized by the Object Management Group (OMG). CORBA automates many common network programming tasks such as object registration, location, and activation; request demultiplexing; framing and error-handling; parameter marshalling and demarshalling; and operation dispatching. The following figure illustrates the primary components in the OMG Reference Model architecture. 

CORBA Services

Object Services -- These are domain-independent interfaces that are used by many distributed object programs. For example, a service providing for the discovery of other available services is almost always necessary regardless of the application domain. Two examples of Object Services that fulfil this role are: 

  • The Naming Service -- which allows clients to find objects based on names; 
  • The Trading Service -- which allows clients to find objects based on their properties. 

Common Facilities -- Like Object Service interfaces, these interfaces are also horizontally-oriented, but unlike Object Services they are oriented towards end-user applications. An example of such a facility is the Distributed Document Component Facility (DDCF), a compound document Common Facility based on OpenDoc. DDCF allows for the presentation and interchange of objects based on a document model, for example, facilitating the linking of a spreadsheet object into a report document. 

Domain Interfaces -- These interfaces fill roles similar to Object Services and Common Facilities but are oriented towards specific application domains. For example, one of the first OMG RFPs issued for Domain Interfaces is for Product Data Management (PDM) Enablers for the manufacturing domain. Other OMG RFPs will soon be issued in the telecommunications, medical, and financial domains. 

Application Interfaces - These are interfaces developed specifically for a given application. Because they are application-specific, and because the OMG does not develop applications (only specifications), these interfaces are not standardized. However, if over time it appears that certain broadly useful services emerge out of a particular application domain, they might become candidates for future OMG standardization. 

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