The Goal

In the 1970s, firms wrote "Libraries," which were ready-packaged code written in languages such as Assembler, Fortran, or C. These provided a number of subroutines that programmers could stream into their software.

The popularity of Windows in the early 1990s saw the introduction of shared components in the Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL). As object-oriented languages became more commonplace, pre-written modules expanded into what were called class libraries. Class libraries were predominately written in C++.

Modern component software is often language-independent. You can bolt it on to your program in whatever language you have elected to use. Although you don't always get the source code, you don't actually need it; and if you're using ActiveX, Java, or COM components, you're already using it.

Componentware is the new name for these ready-made software modules. Compo-nentware earns its place in the world by being attractive to the widest number of developers. This requirement also ensures that prefabricated routines have the longest possible life span.

Componentware doesn't dictate what it should be used for, how it should work, what language it should be used with, or even what standards should be applied. Componentware exists on the sole merit that it works and anyone can use it. This means that massive chunks of quite complex bug-free routines can be tacked onto your code overnight. Your programmers can then tune them to your precise specification. Componentware thus enables you to produce software far more efficiently.

Componentware is the smartest way to accelerate software development. Don't take our word for it, just look at the market. The sales of ActiveX Componentware alone grew over 12 times initial figures between 1996 and 2001. Add in today's Java and COM sales and their combined revenues are in excess of 5 billion dollars. Here's why:

♦ Programs take less time to develop.

♦ Production is simplified.

♦ Development overheads are proportionately reduced.

♦ The components have a higher quality than you may afford.

♦ Their reliability is proven.

♦ Purchased ready-mades can be reused on a range of products.

♦ Costs can be spread across development.

♦ Developers can focus on marketing with fewer distractions by development.

♦ Lower overall costs create a more advantageous break even (part of the development costs are taken off the balance sheet).

♦ Componentware can make your company more agile.

That said, it hasn't all been smooth sailing. Companies have been experimenting with component-based software production in a systematic way since the mid-1990s. The initial success rates were low. Fortunately, buyers and subcontractors both learned from their initial mistakes, and the lessons they learned could be helpful to you.

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