Request Brokers and The dark times of distributed computing

Author: Brett Handley
Date: 13-Jan-2002

A request broker?

I'm not an expert on request brokers. My understanding is that a request broker enables you to have one program on one machine call a function defined in another program on another machine. The major benefit is to be able to do so without having to write lots of complex communications code.

Calling a function on a server should be transparent to you. It should seem as if that function resides in the same program that you are calling it from.

The dark times.

Historically achieving such a feat as that performed by a request broker was considered a very big thing.

To understand why the name "Request Broker" is spoken in hushed tones you need to know that in the dark times, people used primitive languages - languages that could not easily speak across a network. For these people there was wailing and nashing of teeth when from one machine they wanted to call a function that lived on another machine.

Some other people came along. These dedicated people, motivated by not wanting to hear highly distracting teeth noises, made a great labour of many years to put all the communications programming that sends function names and arguments and other necessary evils into one library/object/thing and naturally enough a standard. And then, to refer to this great work they called it a "Request Broker" because is seemed so active and so good at the negotiation between the different languages and machines.

So with awe and wonderment did people bow down to the "Request Broker" because it gave them so much. They now with their multitude of languages could have their programs call other programs (possibly of a different language) across a network.

But then there was grumbling, because the poor people with their cursed old languages despite been given so much had also acquired a new burden. They had to talk to the Request Broker in a new language (a defintion language) otherwise it did not fulfill their requests.

But that is history. Now in these more enlightened times there is a group, the REBOLers who use a new language which makes many communications easy. And in particular one person Maarten has created a simple request broker Rugby that uses the same language of these people. These people, the REBOLers, can have their programs call functions across machines with a single line of their code.

Unfortunately their idyllic environment is spoilt with the wails and screams of the less enlightened poor multitude who having got sick of the Request Broker, demand to be heard and talked to in new languages that are not solving all their problems (xml-rpc, soap, etc).


Rugby is amazingly small but powerful request broker. Check it out.

=url introducing-rugby.html "Introducing Rugby"