Enterprise frameworks: issues and research directions



Enterprise frameworks are a special class of application frameworks. They are distinguished from other application frameworks in terms of scale and focus. In terms of focus, application frameworks typically cover one particular aspect of an application, either a domain-dependent aspect (e.g., billing in a web-based customer-to-business ordering system), or a computational infrastructure aspect such as distribution, man-machine interface, or persistence, etc. Generally, an application framework alone delivers no useful end-user function. With infrastructure frameworks, we still have to plug in domain functionalities, while with domain frameworks, we need to set-up the infrastructure. In contrast, enterprise frameworks embody a reference architecture for an entire application, covering both the infrastructure aspects of the application, and much of the domain-specific functionality. Instantiating an enterprise framework is nothing short of application engineering, where the architecture and many of the components are reusable. While creativity and continual improvement may be the major ingredients for building a good application framework, anything related to enterprise frameworks, be it building, documenting, or instantiating them, is complex and requires careful design and planning. In this paper, we identify the issues involved in building, using, and maintaining enterprise frameworks, both from research and practical perspective. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.