An architecture-centered approach to software environment integration
Software architecture research has yielded a variety of powerful techniques for assisting in the design, implementation, and long-term evolution of complex, heterogeneous, distributed, multi-user applications. Since software development environments are themselves applications with these characteristics, it is natural to examine the effectiveness of an architectural approach to constructing and changing them. We report on our experience in creating a family of related environments in this manner. The environments encompass a range of services and include commercial off-the-shelf products as well as custom-built tools. The particular architectural approach adopted is fully reflexive: the environments are used in their own construction and evolution. We also report on some engineering experiences, in particular with our use of XML as the vehicle for supporting a common and extensible representation of architectural models, including the model of the environment itself. Generally applicable lessons from the experience are described.