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Middleware is a computer software that provides services to software applications beyond those available from the operating system. It can be described as "software glue". [1]


Middleware makes it easier for software developers to implement communication and input/output, so they can focus on the specific purpose of their application. It gained popularity in the 1980s as a solution to the problem of how to link newer applications to older legacy systems, although the term had been in use since 1968. [2]

In distributed applications

Software architecture: Middleware Middleware Schema.svg
Software architecture: Middleware

The term is most commonly used for software that enables communication and management of data in distributed applications. An IETF workshop in 2000 defined middleware as "those services found above the transport (i.e. over TCP/IP) layer set of services but below the application environment" (i.e. below application-level APIs). [3] In this more specific sense middleware can be described as the dash ("-") in client-server , or the -to- in peer-to-peer . Middleware includes web servers, application servers, content management systems, and similar tools that support application development and delivery. [4]

ObjectWeb defines middleware as: "The software layer that lies between the operating system and applications on each side of a distributed computing system in a network." [5] Services that can be regarded as middleware include enterprise application integration, data integration, message oriented middleware (MOM), object request brokers (ORBs), and the enterprise service bus (ESB). [6]

Database access services are often characterised as middleware. Some of them are language specific implementations and support heterogeneous features and other related communication features. [7] Examples of database-oriented middleware include ODBC, JDBC and transaction processing monitors. [8]

Distributed computing system middleware can loosely be divided into two categories—those that provide human-time services (such as web request servicing) and those that perform in machine-time. This latter middleware is somewhat standardized through the Service Availability Forum [9] and is commonly used in complex, embedded systems within telecom, defence and aerospace industries. [10]

Other examples

The term middleware is used in other contexts as well. Middleware is sometimes used in a similar sense to a software driver, an abstraction layer that hides detail about hardware devices or other software from an application.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Middleware in the context of distributed applications is software that provides services beyond those provided by the operating system to enable the various components of a distributed system to communicate and manage data. Middleware supports and simplifies complex distributed applications. It includes web servers, application servers, messaging and similar tools that support application development and delivery. Middleware is especially integral to modern information technology based on XML, SOAP, Web services, and service-oriented architecture.


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A computing platform or digital platform is the environment in which a piece of software is executed. It may be the hardware or the operating system (OS), even a web browser and associated application programming interfaces, or other underlying software, as long as the program code is executed with it. Computing platforms have different abstraction levels, including a computer architecture, an OS, or runtime libraries. A computing platform is the stage on which computer programs can run.

The term Web service (WS) is either:

Inter-process communication

In computer science, inter-process communication or interprocess communication (IPC) refers specifically to the mechanisms an operating system provides to allow the processes to manage shared data. Typically, applications can use IPC, categorized as clients and servers, where the client requests data and the server responds to client requests. Many applications are both clients and servers, as commonly seen in distributed computing.

An application server is a server that hosts applications.

Message-oriented middleware (MOM) is software or hardware infrastructure supporting sending and receiving messages between distributed systems. MOM allows application modules to be distributed over heterogeneous platforms and reduces the complexity of developing applications that span multiple operating systems and network protocols. The middleware creates a distributed communications layer that insulates the application developer from the details of the various operating systems and network interfaces. APIs that extend across diverse platforms and networks are typically provided by MOM.

The Globus Toolkit is an open-source toolkit for grid computing developed and provided by the Globus Alliance. On 25 May 2017 it was announced that the open source support for the project would be discontinued in January 2018, due to a lack of financial support for that work. The Globus service continues to be available to the research community under a freemium approach, designed to sustain the software, with most features freely available but some restricted to subscribers.

Wireless sensor network (WSN) refers to a group of spatially dispersed and dedicated sensors for monitoring and recording the physical conditions of the environment and organizing the collected data at a central location. WSNs measure environmental conditions like temperature, sound, pollution levels, humidity, wind, and so on.

In computer science, message passing is a technique for invoking behavior on a computer. The invoking program sends a message to a process and relies on that process and its supporting infrastructure to then select and run some appropriate code. Message passing differs from conventional programming where a process, subroutine, or function is directly invoked by name. Message passing is key to some models of concurrency and object-oriented programming.

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Computer cluster

A computer cluster is a set of loosely or tightly connected computers that work together so that, in many aspects, they can be viewed as a single system. Unlike grid computers, computer clusters have each node set to perform the same task, controlled and scheduled by software.

An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. It can also provide extension mechanisms so that users can extend existing functionality in various ways and to varying degrees. An API can be entirely custom, specific to a component, or designed based on an industry-standard to ensure interoperability. Through information hiding, APIs enable modular programming, allowing users to use the interface independently of the implementation.

The JAUS Tool Set (JTS) is a software engineering tool for the design of software services used in a distributed computing environment. JTS provides a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and supporting tools for the rapid design, documentation, and implementation of service interfaces that adhere to the Society of Automotive Engineers' standard AS5684A, the JAUS Service Interface Design Language (JSIDL). JTS is designed to support the modeling, analysis, implementation, and testing of the protocol for an entire distributed system.


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