Title: Framework for accessing CORBA objects with Internet as the backbone
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Title: Framework for accessing CORBA objects with Internet as the backbone
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Sethuraman, Meenakshi Sundar
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Gainesville, Fla
Publication Date: 2001
Copyright Date: 2001
 Subjects
Subject: Electronic commerce -- Software   ( lcsh )
Internet -- Security measures   ( lcsh )
CORBA (Computer architecture)   ( lcsh )
Computer and Information Science and Engineering thesis, M.S   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Computer and Information Science and Engineering -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Summary: ABSTRACT: To communicate to an object implemented within an ORB via the Internet, IIOP protocol is used. Because of security issues, firewalls block all protocols except for HTTP. As a result the IIOP protocol is also blocked. The Framework has been designed to overcome difficulties to communicate to an ORB-object via the Internet. The framework uses XML for communication, which is text-based and hence can be transferred over HTTP. As the firewall is configured to allow HTTP protocol, the XML message is not blocked. The XML document uses the SOAP message format for its data representation. On the server side is a translator, which translates the XML message to equivalent CORBA call, thus invoking the remote implemented object. The result is sent back to the client as an XML document in SOAP message format.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2001.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 29).
System Details: System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
System Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility: by Meenakshi Sundar Sethuraman.
General Note: Title from first page of PDF file.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains viii, 30 p.; also contains graphics.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00100856
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 49191593
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notis - ANP1296

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FRAMEWORK FOR ACCESSING CORBA OBJECTS
WITH INTERNET AS THE BACKBONE

















By

MEENAKSHI SUNDAR SETHURAMAN


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2001




























Copyright 2001

By

Meenakshi Sundar Sethuraman
































I dedicate this thesis to my parents















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I offer my highest gratitude to Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran for providing me

with guidance and motivation to complete this thesis. I also thank Dr. Sartaj Sahni and

Dr. Panos Pardalos for serving on my thesis committee. I feel very proud to have people

of such stature related to my work.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends for providing

me with continued support and love.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......... .................................................................................... iv

ABSTRACT.................. ........................................... ...... ...... ........ viii

INTRODUCTION .............. ................................... ..............

G row th O f E-com m erce..................................................................................... 1
W eb T ech n ology ...................................... ................................ ............... 1
Enhanced W eb Technology .......................................................... .............. 2
E-Com m erce ................................................................ 2
Business-to-Business E-com m erce..................................... ............................. ...... 2
CORBA Middleware ........................................... .................... 2
C O R B A .............. .............. .. ............... ...................................... 3
Inter ORB Architecture ............. ................................ .... .... .. .......... .. 3
Problem D efinition..................... .... ...... .. ............................ ...... ......... 3
Issues Relating to ORB Communication via Internet..................... ............. 3
F irew all Issu e s ................................................... .................... 3
Perform ance Issues ........ ........ .. ....... ............. ......... ............ 4
Other Security Issues ................... ... ..... .... ........ ..... .... ............ 4
Framework for ORB Communication via the Internet ............................................ 4

X M L-CORBA Fram ew ork .........................................................................
SOAP ........................................ 5
XMLCORBA Framework ......... ... .... ........ ................5
Scope of the Thesis ................................... .... ........... 5


CORB A A S M ID D LEW ARE .............................................................. ....................... 6

Overview of Architectural Components ........................ ......... ............................ 7
Object Request Broker ........................................ ................... .......... 7
ID L S tu b s ........................................................................ ..... 7
IDL Skeletons ........................................ 8
Dynamic Invocation........................ ................. 8
D ynam ic Skeleton. .................................... 8
Object Adapter ........... .......... ... ................... 8
Interface Repository........................ ................. 9
Internet Inter O RB Protocol......... ................. ................... ................. .............. 9









X M L A N D S O A P ........................................ .......................................... .................... 10

B asic Concepts of X M L ............................. .................... ....... ...................... 10
Acronyms and Specifications in XML Document .................................................. 11
PI .........................................................................1
Data Element........................................... .............. 11
DTD ..................................... ............ .............. 12
N am espaces.......................... ........... .............. 12
The Root Element ......................................... 12
XM L Schema ..................................... ............ .............. 12
X M L A application s ......................................................................... 12
Basic Concepts of SOAP ............. ........................... 13
SO A P M messages ............................................... 14
S O A P E nv elop ....................................................................... 14
SO A P H leader ............................................................ ................................. 14
SOAP Body ........... .... ........................... .............. 14
SOAP and XM L Over IIOP ............................................................... ....... 15


THE XML-CORBA FRAMEWORK DESIGN ............................. ...............16

Overall Design ...................................................... 17
Functionality of the Components .............................. ............. 17
Client ......... .... ..... ......................... .............. 17
CORBA Wrapper ................. .. ...... ..................18
S e rv let ............................................................. . ..... ...... 1 8
XML parser....................................................... 19
Dynamic invocation component .................................. ........... 19
Interface Repository............................. .............. 19
Service-O object List .............................................................................. 20
ORB ........................................ .............. 20
Service-Objects ......................................... 20


IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FRAMEWORK ..................................................... 22

Implementation Details of the Components ......... ........ .. ...... .......... 22
Client Side Implementation ...................... ...................... 22
CORBA Wrapper Implementation .......................... ......... 22
Servlet interface ............ .................. .............. 22
Parsing the XM L docum ent ........................................ 23
Implem enting dynamic invocation............................................ .................... 23
Service-Objects Implementation ......................................................................... 24
P portable object adapter.. ................. ........................ .... .................. ....... .............. 25
Servants and servant m managers .............. ............. .. ............................... 25









CON CLU SION ............... .............................. ..................... ...........27

G oals A ccom polished ....... .................................................. .. ........ .. ............ 27
Future V vision ...................................................................................................... ........ 27
F u tu re W o rk ....................................................................................................... 2 8


L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S .......................................................................... ....................29

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ...................................................................... ..................30















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

FRAMEWORK FOR ACCESSING CORBA OBJECTS WITH INTERNET AS THE
BACKBONE

By

Meenakshi Sundar Sethuraman

August 2001

Chairman: Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran
Major Department: Computer and Information Science and Engineering

To communicate to an object implemented with in an ORB via the Internet, IOP

protocol is used. Because of security issues, firewalls block all protocols except for

HTTP. As a result the IOP protocol is also blocked. The Framework has been designed

to overcome difficulties to communicate to an ORB-object via the Internet. The

framework uses XML for communication, which is text-based and hence can be

transferred over HTTP. As the firewall is configured to allow HTTP protocol, the XML

message is not blocked. The XML document uses the SOAP message format for its data

representation. On the server side is a translator, which translates the XML message to

equivalent CORBA call, thus invoking the remote implemented object. The result is sent

back to the client as an XML document in SOAP message format.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

E-commerce has changed the face of business. The Intemet can be used to

drastically improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase sales for an organization by

automating business-to-business (B2B) relationships with their partners.


Growth Of E-commerce

In a short period of time, the Intemet has changed the face of communication. A

vast amount of information is available to millions of users using the Intemet. Apart from

ordinary users corporate business also effectively uses the Intemet. Almost all the

transactions among corporate partners are electronic transactions through the Intemet.

Consumers can use the Intemet to buy items and suppliers can use it to sell their items.

We can view the Intemet as an intermediary where buyers, suppliers, distributors and

partners can satisfy their requirements.

Web Technology

The advent of web browsers and Hypertext markup language (HTML) has

resulted in the tremendous growth of web technology. The web browser became an

important client interface. They were capable of displaying static HTML documents. The

HTML allows organizations to publish information in a format that any user on any

system can display. They have a predefined set of tags, which are mainly used for data

formatting and representation. These predefined tags were part of the evolving HTML

standard. In early days, web applications were simple and contained static information.









Enhanced Web Technology

Web technology enhancement has added support for dynamic content. Web

servers can connect to corporate backed systems and dynamically generate HTML to

display information. Web applications are available to access information from data

warehouses and live corporate data.

E-Commerce

Consumer-based solutions or e-commerce applications have become an essential

part of day-to-day business. Customers, suppliers, distributors and other partners can use

the web to browse catalogs, place orders, execute transactions, monitor inventory levels

and conduct other operations.

Business-to-Business E-commerce

Present applications are browser-based. These applications need human

interventions and are oriented for human users. The Intemet can be used for exchanging

automated information between two corporate systems, which is effectively between two

application systems [1]. The solutions that focus on integrating inter-corporate

application can significantly reduce costs through well-integrated B2B deployments. The

automation of B2B relationships with suppliers, distributors and other partners will

greatly improve efficiency, will reduce costs and will increase sales [1]. The Intemet can

be used for automated procurement, replenishment and distribution operations.


CORBA Middleware

One of the most popular approaches to application integration or well-integrated

B2B deployment is to implement interfaces using standard distributed middleware such

as CORBA, DCOM or RPC [1]. Middleware is very effective in building internal









distributed applications and is also used to implement business-to-business integration

across the Intemet. CORBA is one form of the popular middleware available in the

industry.

CORBA

The Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is one of the most

important middleware specifications available to the industry. CORBA provides a

framework for development and execution of distributed applications. CORBA allows a

distributed, heterogeneous collection of objects to interoperate [2]. The Object Request

Broker (ORB) is the object bus or the distributed service that implements location

transparency. It locates the remote object on the network.

Inter ORB Architecture

The General Inter-ORB protocol (GIOP) specifies a set of message formats and

common data representations for communicating to an ORB with the Intemet as the

backbone. The Internet Inter-ORB protocol (HOP) specifies how GIOP messages are

exchanged over a TCP/IP network [3]. The IOP makes it possible to use the Intemet

itself as a backbone to communicate to an ORB.


Problem Definition

Issues Relating to ORB Communication via Intemet

Firewall Issues

Security imposes impediments on cross-corporate application integration. The

organizations have firewalls set up to protect their systems from malicious misuse. In

order to support request from browsers, the firewalls are configured to allow HTTP

requests to get in but to disallow or stop requests that use other protocols [1]. The firewall









does not have the capability to effectively distinguish between authorized middleware

users and malicious hackers. To communicate to an ORB via the Intemet, it requires IOP

protocol to be used, which unfortunately will be blocked by the firewall. In a present day

scenario it is not possible to communicate to an ORB with the existing framework and

Intemet as the backbone.

Performance Issues

CORBA users have also tried to implement cross-corporate applications using

firewalls that can be configured to accept CORBA IOP requests [1]. This solution works

only if the particular firewall has been implemented at all sites involved in the

application. It has been also found that it suffered serious set backs performance vise.

Other Security Issues

Even if the request is allowed to penetrate the firewall, the e-commerce

application also needs to implement its own security protection to authenticate users,

authorize access and protect data. Most middleware solutions provide security services,

but they rely on internal security systems that don't easily extend outside of the

organization.


Framework for ORB Communication via the Intemet

XML

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a subset of Standard Generalized Markup

Language (SGML) [4, 5]. An XML document can be used as a self-describing message

that can convey information between applications across the Intemet. XML does not have

a predefined set of tags. The tags defined in the XML are user defined and convey

specific information to the parser.









SOAP

Simple Object Access protocol (SOAP) is a lightweight protocol for exchange of

information in a decentralized, distributed environment [6]. It is an XML based protocol.

The framework uses only the format for the exchange of information defined in SOAP.

XML-CORBA Framework

Although middleware provides the kind of services required to implement cross-

corporate ORB communications it has limited applicability on the Internet. The limited

capability is due to the fact that middleware uses its own protocol, which is blocked by

the firewall. The solution to this problem is a design that uses HTTP as the medium of

carrier across the Intemet. Designing a framework using HTTP, XML and a translator,

which can translate between XML request and equivalent ORB request, can solve the

problem. The client sends the message in XML using SOAP format via the HTTP. On the

server side the translator converts the service request in XML to equivalent CORBA

request. The request is dynamically created, populated with arguments, sent to the service

object and results obtained. The service object is identified using the target reference. The

results are converted back to XML in SOAP format and sent back to the client.


Scope of the Thesis

The thesis assumes that naming standards evolve and that the corporate use these

standards to query services. The client sends in their requests using XML in the SOAP

format. Any other format is out of scope of the framework. Non-XML communications

and transfer of the data is also not within the scope of the framework.














CHAPTER 2
CORBA AS MIDDLEWARE

This chapter deals with the basic concepts of CORBA and its architecture.

CORBA was designed to allow components to discover each other and interoperate on an

object bus. It specifies a system, which provides interoperability between the objects in a

heterogeneous, distributed environment. It is based on the Object Management Group's

component object model.

CORBA defines interface specifications that are written in Interface Definition

Language (IDL). The CORBA IDL is declarative in nature and does not provide any

implementation details. The Interface Definition Language (IDL) is a descriptive

language and not a programming language [2]. It describes the interfaces being

implemented by the remote objects. The IDL is used to define the name of the interface

and the names of each of the attributes and methods. Once the IDL file has been created,

it can be used to generate client stubs and server skeletons. The client IDL stubs provide

the static interfaces to the remote service-objects. The precompiled stubs define the

invocation of the remote services by clients. The stub acts like a proxy for the remote

server object [2]. The middleware that establishes connection between the client stubs

and the target objects or the service objects is the ORB. By using an ORB, the client

stubs can transparently invoke a method on the server object. The ORB intercepts the

client calls and is responsible for finding the remote-object. The ORB also passes the

parameters to invoke the remote-object and finally returns the results. The client at first

obtains an object reference of the remote service-object. Using the object reference and









the precompiled stubs the client issues a request to the target object via the ORB. The

following diagram depicts the overall architecture of the CORBA specification.


Figure 1. CORBA Architecture


Overview of Architectural Components


Object Request Broker

The ORB is the heart of any CORBA implementation. It enables objects to

transparently make requests and receive responses in a distributed environment. Due to

the presence of the ORB, the client applications invoke the remote-objects, as if they are

present locally.

IDL Stubs

The client IDL stubs provide the static interface for the object services. To the

client it is a local call to a proxy object, which in turns communicates with the remote









service object. The stubs also perform marshaling. It has the capability of encoding and

decoding the operation and the parameters into the flattened message formats.

IDL Skeletons

The IDL skeletons are equivalent to the IDL stubs. The skeleton is the bridge

between the ORB and the actual code that implements the method associated with the

object's interface.

Dynamic Invocation

The functionality, which allows the dynamic construction and dispatch of the

object invocation without the stubs, is called dynamic invocation. A stub routine is

specific to a particular operation. But the dynamic invocation allows any object to be

invoked. To dynamically invoke the client supplies information about the parameters and

the object to be invoked. The framework uses the dynamic invocation for invoking the

remote object. The server cannot tell the difference between static and a dynamic

invocation as they both have the same message semantics.

Dynamic Skeleton

The dynamic skeleton provides a run time binding mechanism for servers to

invoke the server-objects without the server skeletons. The dynamic skeleton looks at the

values of an incoming message to figure out the target object and the method. The

precompiled skeleton interface, in contrast to a dynamic skeleton, is for a particular

object implementation.

Object Adapter

The object adapter accepts requests on behalf of the server's objects. It provides

the run-time environment for instantiating server objects, passing the requests to them

and assigning them with their respective object ids or references. The object adapter also









registers the classes it supports and their run time instances with the implementation

repository.

Interface Repository

The interface repository is a run time distributed database that contains machine-

readable IDL-defined interfaces. The application allows components to dynamically

access, store and update metadata information. Thus by using the information of the

interface repository it is possible for a program to determine the operations that are valid

on the interface.

Internet Inter ORB Protocol

The ORB interoperability allows communication between independent

implementations of the CORBA standards. The interoperability also allows a client of

one vendor ORB to invoke operations on an object implemented within different ORB.

To achieve above transaction the ORB should communicate using a standard protocol.

The protocol for ORB interoperability is the General Inter-ORB protocol (GIOP) [3]. It is

defined for any connection oriented transport layer protocol. The specification of the

GIOP designed for the TCP/IP in the transport layer is the HOP protocol. HOP defines

how GIOP message formats are exchanged over a TCP/IP network [3]. So for an ordinary

client to communicate to an ORB through the Intemet, HOP messages have to be

constructed. Another drawback of the IOP is that firewalls block the entry of all the

protocols except for the HTTP. This makes it impossible to communicate to an object

implemented within an ORB.














CHAPTER 3
XML AND SOAP

This chapter deals with the basic concepts of XML and SOAP. The framework

uses XML to convey the service and the parameters required. The XML data uses SOAP

format for the communication across the Internet using HTTP. The XML is an acronym

for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a meta-language used to define other

languages. XML is also a markup language that specifies neither the tag set nor the

grammar for the language. The XML document is enclosed within a SOAP message

format. The SOAP is an acronym for Simple Object Access Protocol.


Basic Concepts of XML

A XML document can be parsed if it is well formed. A well-formed document is

one that has every user-defined tag closed. Though the XML document does not follow

grammatical rules it still should conform to a general set of principles. These principles

are then used by XML aware applications and parsers to make sense of the document

and perform some action with the data.

A XML document is not required to be valid. A valid document is one that

conforms to its DTD. The DTD is an acronym for document type definition. A DTD

defines the grammar and tag set for a specific XML formatting [4]. If a document

specifies a DTD and follows that DTD'S rules, it is said to be a valid XML. DTD is being

replaced by more powerful XML-schema. The following section discusses various

acronyms and specifications in a XML document.




























Figure 2. XML Document


Acronyms and Specifications in XML Document

PI

A PI in an XML document is a processing instruction [4]. A processing

instruction tells an application to perform some specific task. A processing instruction is

distinguished from other XML data because it represents a command to either the XML

parser or a program that would use the XML document. The first line in the sample XML

document is a PI.

Data Element

The elements are represented by arbitrary names and must be enclosed in angle

brackets. The names of the elements must start with a letter or underscore and then may

contain any number of letters, numbers, underscores, hyphens or periods [5]. They may

not contain embedded spaces. Every opened element must in turn be closed. These data

elements are purely user-defined. They give meaning to the textual data and helps parser

parse the required information.






Timberland
$200.00



6
good











DTD

A DTD is a document type definition [5]. A DTD establishes a set of constraints

for an XML document or a set of documents. DTD is not a specification on its own, but is

defined as part of the XML specifications. A DTD defines the way an XML document

should be constructed.

Namespaces

Namespaces is one of the XML-related concepts that define a mapping between

an element prefix and a URI. This mapping is used for handling namespace collisions and

defining data structures that allows parsers to handle collisions.

The Root Element

The root element is the highest-level element in the XML document and must be

the first opening tag and the last closing tag with in the document. XML specifies that

there may be only one root element within the document.

XML Schema

XML schema is designed to replace and amplify DTDS. XML schema offers

XML-centric means to constraint XML documents. DTD has no knowledge of hierarchy;

they have difficulty handling namespace conflicts. But XML Schema on the other hand

represents the data in the form of hierarchy and using XML itself.


XML Applications

The most popular use for XML is to create a separation of content and

presentation. XML can be used to represent the data content in client-server

communications and is not tied to any single type of client or server. The XML solution

is system and vendor independent. Above all, XML is purely text based and transmission









is easy and efficient. The transmission occurs over HTTP protocol and is not blocked by

the firewalls. The above-mentioned advantage makes XML more suitable for business-to-

business e-commerce.


Basic Concepts of SOAP

SOAP is a lightweight protocol for exchange of information in a decentralized,

distributed environment [6]. It is an XML based protocol that consists of three parts. An

envelop that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process

it, a set of encoding rules for expressing instances of application-defined data types and a

convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses. SOAP codifies the use

of XML as an encoding scheme for request and response parameters using HTTP as a

transport. In particular, a SOAP method is simply an HTTP request and response that

compiles with the SOAP encoding rules. A SOAP endpoint is simply an HTTP-based

URL that identifies a target for method invocation. The project uses the SOAP format for

its communications between the applications. The following diagram describes a sample

SOAP document.


Figure 3. SOAP Document


xmlns:SOAP-ENV="http://specificationsoap.org/"

XA
COMPANYA












SOAP Messages

A SOAP message is an XML document that consists of a mandatory SOAP

envelope, an optional header and a mandatory SOAP body [6]. SOAP defines a simple

semantics for applications to express data in a specified format and thus achieving a

standard format.

SOAP Envelop

The envelope is the top-bounding element of the XML document representing the

message. The grammatical rules regarding the envelope are as follows. All SOAP

messages should contain the envelope data element and it should be the top element. The

element may contain namespace declaration as well as additional attributes.

SOAP Header

The SOAP header data element conveys to the recipient as to how the SOAP

message should be processed [6]. The Header element is if present should be present as

the first immediate child element of the SOAP envelope. All immediate child elements of

the SOAP Header element are called header entries. The SOAP parser looks for specific

information from the SOAP header before going ahead to the next element.

SOAP Body

The SOAP Body element provides a simple mechanism for transferring required

information to the recipient of the message [6]. The Body element is encoded as an

immediate child element of the SOAP envelope XML element. If a header element is

present then the Body element must immediately follow the header element, otherwise it

must be the first immediate child element of the envelope element. The framework uses

the SOAP body to enclose the XML data. The server application parses the SOAP

document and looks for the enclosed XML file.






15


SOAP and XML Over IOP

SOAP and XML messages can be exchanged over the HTTP protocol, as they are

text based. They are mainly used to convey data or information in a meaningful and a

more defined way. The above-mentioned qualities make XML and SOAP more suitable

for the XML-CORBA Framework. They can easily pass through the firewall and can be

used to exchange meaningful information. The SOAP and XML can use the HTTP secure

transaction to ensure the safe transfer of the data















CHAPTER 4
THE XML-CORBA FRAMEWORK DESIGN

This chapter deals with the design and the functionalities of different components

in the XML-CORBA framework. The chapter provides sufficient explanation to what

each component does. Extending the server-side application to the Intemet involves

connecting with the client systems using XML (Extensible Markup language) and

HTML. The Framework connects server side CORBA with XML-based applications to.

At run time, information from the XML-based application is channeled to a CORBA

Wrapper or a Translator, which converts the request to equivalent CORBA calls. Then

the call is directed to the service object implemented with in the ORB. The following

diagram depicts the different component of the framework.


Internet
service-object objects
list


/ \2
server side ----- ORB
client > CORBA
Wrapper 3

HTTP request
with SOAP
Message


firewall IR service-object
implementation





Figure 4. Different Components of the XML-CORBA Framework









Overall Design

From the figure we can note that the client is a web-enabled browser or a URL

object, capable of sending HTTP request to a specified URL. The server interface is a

servlet, which accepts incoming HTTP request. After capturing the HTTP request, the

XML data is extracted and passed on to the translator. The translator translates the

incoming XML data to equivalent CORBA call and is aptly named as CORBA wrapper.

The CORBA Wrapper communicates to the Service-Object list and the Interface

repository to gain more information on the object implementation. The Interface

Repository is a part of the CORBA specification. Once the CORBA call is created, it is

sent to the corresponding object, which provides the service. Once a result is processed, it

is converted back to XML response in the SOAP format and then sent back to the client.

This is a brief description of the overall design. The functionalities of the components are

dealt in detail in the coming sections.


Functionality of the Components

Client

The client application can be more described as, a cross-corporate application

seeking a service for some of its business requirements. The client is a web enabled

browser or a simple URL object. In the present day scenario one of the popular way of

communication is by using XML. XML is text based and hence it is efficient and easy to

use. The XML document contains the name of the service and all the parameter required

for the invoking the object. The XML document is enclosed within a SOAP messages

that consist of a mandatory SOAP envelop, an optional header and a mandatory SOAP

body.










CORBA Wrapper

The CORBA wrapper is the heart of the framework. The wrapper receives the

XML message in the SOAP format and converts it to the equivalent CORBA equivalent

call. The result obtained from the invoked object is converted to a XML message and sent

back to the client. The wrapper forwards the request to the server object and can be called

as CORBA client. The various components of the CORBA Wrapper are depicted in the

following figure.

Servlet

The servlet component acts as the interface between Intemet and the CORBA

wrapper. The servlet interacts with the client and receives the HTTP request from them.

The received request contains the XML document in the SOAP format. The XML

document is passed on to the XML parser.


Figure 5. CORBA wrapper


service-object List





ic ORB


Interface
Repository


Xml Data









XML parser

The XML parser parses the received XML document and extracts the data, to

obtain the requested service and the required parameters. This component handles the

important task of taking a raw XML document and making sense of the document. The

parser ensures that the XML document is well formed and it would also ensure the

document is valid, if a DTD or schema is referenced. The result of parsing a XML

document is a tree structure, which can be easily manipulated, traversed and handled by

other applications.

Dynamic invocation component

After the data is extracted from the XML document it is passed on to the dynamic

invocation component. This component is responsible for creating a request object

dynamically and for invoking it on the requested service. To invoke the requested service

the object reference of the target object is obtained. Then a request object is dynamically

created, populated with the required arguments, and then invoked on the requested

service using the target reference. The dynamic invocation contrasts with the default

static invocation, which requires stubs for each type of CORBA object that the client

intends to invoke. In other words, a client that uses static invocation declares in advance

the types of objects it will invoke. A client that uses the dynamic invocation makes no

such declaration. The advantage of the dynamic invocation is flexibility it can be used to

support generic clients that can invoke any object, precisely what the functionality of the

Wrapper is.

Interface Repository

The Interface Repository (IR) contains the descriptions about the CORBA object

interfaces. As mentioned earlier the IDL files are used to describe the interfaces that are









implemented by the remote service-objects. The data in an interface repository is the

same as that in IDL files, containing descriptions of modules, interfaces, operations, and

parameters [2]. These descriptions are for runtime access. The information is stored as

hierarchies of objects whose methods divulge information about the interfaces. Interface

repository is a part of the CORBA specification. The CORBA vendors have interface

repository implemented as the part of the package. The interface files can be registered

with the interface repository with special command line utilities.

Service-Object List

The client is supplied with the name of the service (method) that has to be

invoked and the parameters required for the invocation. All the other details like name of

the object implementing the method, location of the implementation and similarly other

details are hidden from the client. The service-object list is an implementation that maps

the name of the service to their Identifiers (ID), thereby helping to locate the object

containing the implementation. This gives the flexibility to the client to know very little

information for invoking a service.

ORB

The server objects are implemented within the ORB, hereby giving location

transparency. The ORB helps in the invocation of the server objects by the client

requests. The inner details are hidden from the user. The ORB is a part of the CORBA

specification and is implemented by all the vendors.

Service-Objects

The server objects are implemented within the ORB. These objects are the

business logics behind a corporate. They implement different services depending on the

requirements of the company and its partners. There are different components that act as






21


intermediate between these service-objects and the ORB. A Portable Object Adapter

(POA) is intermediary and routes request between the two [7]. A servant is a

programming object that provides the implementation of the abstract service object. The

POA determines which servant object to invoke in correspondence to the client request

thus invoking the abstract implementation.














CHAPTER 5
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FRAMEWORK

The following section deals with the implementation of the different components

within the framework. The most important component of the framework is the CORBA

wrapper. The other major components are ORB, XML parser, interface repository and so

forth. The ORB component comes along with CORBA package. Many CORBA vendors

support ORB implementation. The CORBA package also includes the implementation of

interface repository, naming service and other components. Many XML parsers are

available in the industry. The XML parsers are capable of validating the XML document

with DTD or XML-schema.


Implementation Details of the Components

Client Side Implementation

The client is a web browser or a URL object capable of sending HTTP requests.

For the framework, the client is implemented using a URL object. The java URL class

has methods, which helps to connect to a server. The server connection is established

using a uniform resource locator (URL). The client after connecting to the server opens

an output stream and sends the XML file in SOAP format. After the transfer of the XML

file, the client awaits the result from the server.

CORBA Wrapper Implementation

Servlet interface

The Wrapper has a servlet interface so that it has the capability to receive HTTP

requests. The servlet implementation allows application logic to be embedded in HTTP









request-response process. The servlet API is specified in two java extension packages.

They are javax.servlet and javax.servlet.http. The javax.servlet.http contains classes and

interfaces specific to the HTTP. HTTP contains two methods GET and POST through

which a request or response is communicated. The servlet contains implementations to

process both type of request using doget and doPost methods. Since the application sends

the request in POST format the doPost is invoked which handles the request.

Parsing the XML document

The XML document has to be parsed so that data can be manipulated with. It has

applications, which can be used to parse the document. SAX is simple API for XML [4].

It provides an event-based framework for parsing XML data. SAX is the process of

reading through the document and breaking down the data in to usable parts. The other

standard application is the DOM. The DOM is an acronym for document object model

[4]. While SAX only provides access to the data with in a XML document, DOM

provides a representation of an XML document as a tree. Since it is represented as a tree

it has the advantage of being traversed, and manipulated easily. The CORBA wrapper

parses the XML document using DOM.

Implementing dynamic invocation

The dynamic invocation is achieved using a stub-less run time binding approach

using, the dynamic invocation interface. To dynamically invoke, the reference of the

requested target-object is required. This is obtained using the service-object list. Once the

reference of the target-object is acquired then the following steps are used to invoke the

method on the remote target-object

CORBA objects are introspective. They can provide the applications information

about themselves. The get interface method when invoked on the object it returns a









InterfaceDef object that fully describes this interface [7]. The InterfaceDef object is

defined inside the interface repository.

Once the InterfaceDef object is obtained it can be used as an entry point for

navigating all the information about the interface, the methods it supports, the parameters

required and return types. The client issues a lookup_name to find the method it wants to

invoke and then issues a describe call to obtain the method's full definition [7]. A

describeinterface is an alternative, which gives full description of the interface and

about the method that needs to be invoked.

The next issue is to create the parameter list for invoking the service on the target

object. CORBA specifies a self-defining data structure for passing parameters, which it

calls Named Value List. The list is implemented using an NVList pseudo object [7]. The

list is created by invoking a createlist and remaining items are added using add item

calls.

The important part of the dynamic invocation is to create a request. A request is a

pseudo object that contains the name of the method, the argument list, and the return

value. A request is invoked using create request and passing along with it the name of

the method, arguments and return value.

The last step is the invocation of the request. This can be done using the invoke

call. The invoke call sends the request object and obtains the results.

Service-Objects Implementation

The remote target-objects are implemented with in the ORB. Before the

registering of the target objects the server needs to be set up as given below. The ORB

has to be initialized. After the initialization of the ORB the Portable Object Adaptor

(POA) has to be set up which acts as an intermediary between the ORB and the service









objects. In other words it determines which servant should be invoked when a client

request is received. A servant is a programming object that provides the implementation

of an abstract object or the remote service object.

Portable object adapter

Portable Object Adapters provide portability on the server side. A POA is the

intermediary between the implementation of an object and the ORB. In its role as an

intermediary, a POA routes requests to servants. In the ORB at least one POA must be

present, which is called the rootPOA [7]. The rootPOA is created automatically as soon

as the ORB is initialized. The set of POAs is hierarchical and all POAs have the rootPOA

as their root parent. When an abstract object is assigned to a servant, it is called an active

object and the servant is said to implement the active object. Every POA has one Active

Object Map which keeps track of the object IDs of active objects and their associated

active servants. An Active Object Map is a table that maps active CORBA service objects

through their object IDS to servants. The object ID is a way to identify a CORBA object

with in the object adapter. An object ID can be assigned by a application and should be

unique with in the object adapter in which it was created. Below is a descriptive diagram

of the POA, active object map, servant manager and the servant object.

Servants and servant managers

The servant managers are responsible for finding and returning the corresponding

servant object which in turns invokes the remote service object. They allow the POA to

activate objects when a request for an inactive object is received. Servant managers are

optional. A servant is an active instance of an implementation. The Portable Object

Adapters (POA) maintains a map of active servants and the object id's of the servant.









When a client request is received, the POA first looks the map for the object id. If it is

found then the servant manager is asked to locate and activate the appropriate servant.


Figure 6. POA Overview














CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSION

This chapter deals with the goals accomplished in the thesis and concludes with a

few ideas on future work in the same.


Goals Accomplished

The CORBA-XML framework makes it possible for a client to communicate to a

target object implemented with in an ORB. It removes the hurdles of firewall; security

concerns and provides better performance. The client can be a simple implementation

using the HTTP protocol. The usage of the XML for transfer of data provides

extensibility to the data. The framework accomplishes a way to talk to an ORB-object

with the Intemet as the backbone. The IIOP, which was designed for such a

communication, cannot be practically used due to firewall blockages. An alternative to

talk to the ORB-object in the presence of a firewall is what the thesis has accomplished.


Future Vision

The Framework provides a way for objects to interoperate, across the Intemet and

with in a corporate. It uses ORB for location transparency. The future e-business can be

imagined as vast collection of objects, which interoperate among them-selves. They

require less human intervention. The services in turn can manage a company's resource,

manage their supply-chain, place orders to their suppliers, provide their clients with

required information, take orders from their client, shipping them directly to the end






28


customers and so forth. This increases the pace of the business, the ease with which a

transaction can occur and the efficient handling of the resources.


Future Work

CORBA is one of the middleware available to the industry. There are many other

middleware implementations available in the market. The framework can be extended to

provide compatibility with other middleware components.















LIST OF REFERENCES


[1] Anne Thomas. Web Methods B2B Integration Server white paper.
http://tni.webmethods.com/, 1998.

[2] Robert Orfali and Dan Harkey. Client/Server Programming with Java and
CORBA. Wiley Publications, 1998.

[3] I-Planet E-Commerce solutions. CORBA/IIOP white paper, Catching the Next
Wave. http://developer.iplanet.com/docs/wpapers/corba/index.html/, 1997.

[4] Brett McLaughlin. Java and XML. O'Reilly Publications, 2000.

[5] W3C Recommendation. The XML specification. http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-
xml, 2000.

[6] W3C Recommendation. The SOAP specification. http://www.w3.org/TR/SOAP,
2000.

[7] VijayKumar Natarajan, Stefan Reich and Bhaskar Vasudevan. Programming with
Visibroker, A developer's guide to Visibroker for Java. Wiley Publications, 2000.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Meenakshi Sundar is a native of Chennai, India. He earned his high school

diploma from Vana Vani Matriculation, IIT-Campus, Chennai. He earned his Bachelor of

Engineering degree in the field of Computer Science at Sathyabama College of

Engineering, University of Madras, India. In May 1999 Meenakshi Sundar earned his

bachelor's degree and graduated with distinction. He immediately went on to pursue his

master's at the University of Florida, Gainesville in the field of Computer Engineering.

He likes the game of cricket, a popular game played in India.




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