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Monday, August 4 2008

Getting on the tracks

So, if Salamanca is a software factory, what is the product line associated with it? The answer is simple : business applications.

Alright, I think I can be more specific than this. In our context

a business application is a software that handles business specific data while implementing parts of business specific processes (which we will call activities) and enforcing business specific rules.

There are a few things we can infer from this definition :Hotel Du Nord

  • to handle business specific data, we will deal with a database backend ; more often than not a real like Sql Server or Oracle, but also possibly a web service or even a simple file (XML, CSV...). For instance, a hotel room booking application would be built upon a proper database, with structured data such as the rooms, their rates, their vacancies...
  • the data lifecycle has to be integrated into well defined activities. At all times, from the state that we know the system is in, there are only a few well known actions that can be taken. Without this concept, an application like Excel would fit into our definition. For instance, a basic activity involving a hotel room and a customer would be : book, then check in, then check out.
  • rules must be enforced at all times. Some of them are specific only to some piece of data, some others can be also specific to  a specific activity. For instance, a booking date in the system cannot be anterior to the date the hotel was built : this is a general rule. But for new reservations, the same booking date has to be in the future : this is a rule that applies to the same data, but that is specific to the activity called "book a room in the hotel".

Our vision with Salamanca is to be able to design a business application in terms of data, activities and rules and be able to generate a complete and functional (if not user-friendly) software.

But we also want to leave the developer at the center of our factory. There are many libraries and tools (think of code generators) out there in the field that work very well, provided you respect their predicates (data structure, software architecture...). But in real life, you almost always have to adapt your code to business specific conditions : already existing databases, specific procedures, architecture... Applications built with Salamanca must be open to adaptations by developers. Think only of the : would you use a software exclusively designed by automated tools ? I know I would not.

Through the concept of activities, which I will elaborate on more in another post, we also created a new way to clearly separate the concerns of presentation from the core application, which we found to be very promising so far. Once created the core of your business application (data handling, activities and rules), you could develop your HMI layer in any (.NET related) technology you like : Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, ASP .NET... Or in all of them. Or, maybe wiser, you could develop part of your application as an ASP .NET application, and part of it as a Windows Forms application (on Windows TabletPC or Windows Mobile for instance), while reusing the same set of core libraries with your business specific data, activities and rules.

I really hope I made you want to know more about it. In future posts, I will talk about our libraries, our models and our tools. Stay tuned !

Tuesday, July 29 2008

A first glimpse of Salamanca

Welcome to the team blog of Salamanca!

Salamanca is a business applications software factory. The goal is to enable developers to create business oriented applications in a more efficient, reliable and coherent way through a specific set of libraries, models and tools. To make it short, we define a business application as a software that handles business specific data (you can think of it as a low scale enterprise application). Salamanca is designed to help managing the whole life cycle of business data : storage, display, edition, validation, processing... More on that later.

Salamanca is an open-source project, hosted on CodePlex. Its name is a reference to The Salamanca, the first commercially successful locomotive built in 1812.

We are delighted to have you on board, and we hope we will have a pleasant trip together ;-)