The Irrelevancy of Objects to the WWW Infrastructure

A position paper for the Joint W3C/OMG Workshop on Distributed Objects and Mobile Code

Rich $alz
Open Software Foundation
11 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142

Object-oriented programming has been the ``next big thing'' in the programming world for over a decade. In fact, I am probably dating myself by using the word programming rather than technology. O-O technology provides an environment in which O-O programming is the most natural way to write code, just as a language without goto makes structured programming the most natural way to write code.

The OMG's definition of an object model, interface language and API, and language bindings seems to be the final push that O-O programming needs for widespread deployment. This is a good thing: as any programmer can tell you, writing code is hard. Object-oriented programming can provide a realistic way of reducing the amount of new code that has to be written:

But looking at it as a technology for Web infrastructure, so what? Object-oriented technology will probably help make it easier to write new web servers in the future. But objects operate at too high a level to be able to address any of the problems the World-Wide Web currently has, or might have in the near future:

The cornerstone to the Web's success is its interoperability. The Web infrastructure must ensure this interoperability as it continues to add functionality and address growth problems. O-O technology traditionally abstracts such issues away, freeing the programmer to work on the ``real work.'' For the Web infrastructure, however, the real work is in precisely those areas that objects would have us forget.