The concept of SOFEA (Service-Oriented Front-End Architecture), outlined
in Life Above the Service Tier
(PDF), is not new, but it is an important concept. If SOFEA is new to you, the
principles of it are as follows:
- SOFEA is a metamodel for applications that are thick or thin
- Download, presentation and data interchange are decoupled
- Presentation flow and state are managed by the client
- The presentation tier must feature data structures that are as rich as the server
- Model View Controller is a good pattern for the interface
SOFEA's doppelgänger is known as
SOUI (Service Oriented User Interface). It's common to see both terms listed together and the
reason is that both were defined at roughly the same period of time,
though Ganesh Prasad argued there was a difference in SOFEA and SOUI -
There is a Difference, After
(also see SOFEA: Also known as SOUI). Both
essentially want the same thing -- to make services act more like
services regardless of the consumer.
The differences between the two proposals are not all that important.
What I took away from my initial encounter with the general approach is
that of responsibility. At that time, I had a growing internal conflict
with asking the application server (Rails, Django, etc.) to also concern
itself with generating everything necessary for presenting business
SOFEA/SOUI gave a name to my "psychosis" and suggested an alternative
- Worry about how to present the information in the actual client
- Talk to the application server by sending and receiving only the
essential nuggets of information.
this architecture. Frameworks like Sammy and
Jaml are a step along this path. We owe it to ourselves to try and push this technology
forward and to ease the burdens of our passions, allowing us more time
to focus on the things that are more important; or at least those that
are more interesting.