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introduction - Volume 7 Number 2

CURRENT ISSUE - Volume 7 Number 2 Jane C. Blake,
Managing Editor

The integration of distinct parts to form a useful and effective whole is the underlying theme for two sets of topics in this issue. The opening papers describe the integration of programming tools to create a graphical software development environment. The second set of papers addresses the integration of large, complex systems --- systems that encompass all the software and hardware components needed to serve the user's purpose.

The DEC FUSE software development product is designed to take advantage of UNIX workstations' graphical capabilities, supporting such programming languages as C, C++, and Fortran. Rich Hart and Glenn Lupton review the origins of DEC FUSE in the FIELD environment developed at Brown University and compare FUSE with similar environments based on a tool integration model. The authors present two key aspects of the product design: graphical user interfaces built on top of UNIX commands and a multicast messaging mechanism that allows the tools to work together.

A tool recently integrated into the DEC FUSE suite is the Data Visualizer, which allows software developers to display thousands of lines of code with associated statistics. Don Zaremba describes the process of taking the tool from advanced development through implementation, and relates what the engineers learned as they adapted current visualization research to their goals and built prototypes of the technology. He concludes with a description of the resulting product and plans for future work.

Our next three papers explore experiences with different aspects of systems-level engineering and integration. Eric Newcomer's overview of the Multivendor Integration Architecture (MIA) effort, initiated by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), highlights many factors that in general make systems integration challenging. NTT sought, through standardization, to resolve the costly problem of incompatible application environments. Eric discusses the MIA's chosen direction based on the need for portability, interoperability, and a common user interface. He then describes Digital's contribution in the area of distributed transaction processing and summarizes the MIA consortium's successes and continuing work.

A specific object-oriented product developed to integrate systems applications is the subject of Jim Kirkley's and Wick Nichols' paper. Comprising Jacobson's and Rumbaugh's methodologies, third-party software, and Digital's CORBA-compliant ObjectBroker, the Framework-based Environment (FBE) product addresses the need for new and legacy applications to interoperate in a distributed manufacturing system. The authors step through a typical integration project and expand on trade-offs that must be addressed in an integration project that takes an object view of the system environment.

A major systems engineering project to solve the problem of ongoing introductions of software into a large computer network is described in the concluding paper by Owen Tallman. The project, commissioned by a large French bank, extended over a network of data center clustered servers, branch servers, and thousands of workstations and personal computers. Owen outlines the customer's requirements and Digital's role as developer of the automated software deployment facility. He reviews the configuration management model (CMM) and other models that were the basis for the project team's work. His discussion of the implementation encompasses examples that illustrate the intricacies of a rigorously managed software deployment process.

The editors thank Mikael Rolfhamre of Digital's UNIX Business Segment, Ed Balkovich of Digital's Corporate Research Group, and Hank Jakiela of the Systems Business Unit for their help in developing this issue. At the end of the issue, we also acknowledge and thank the referees for their very valuable reviews of manuscripts submitted during this past year.

Upcoming topics in the Journal are Digital's high-performance Fortran compiler and parallel software environment, and the Sequoia 2000 global change research project.

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