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Shibboleth of many meanings. An essay on the ontology of business objects

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1 Author(s)
Persson, E. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Lund Univ., Sweden

Business objects have become an important topic of the discourse on enterprise distributed object computing, but what is a business object, apart from a flabbergasting, seemingly oxymoronic juxtaposition of vocables from two spheres that are poles part, viz. that of management fads and that of software development? From a comprehensive study of the literature on the subject, we distinguish seven reasonably distinct strands of usage of the concept and also cast a glance at a number of closely related terms. Contemplating our terminological findings, we then try to reach out for the true essence of business objects, but fail insofar as we arrive at two separate, although interrelated essences. Of these two, which we thereinafter refer to as business objects in the core sense and business objects in the extended sense, we find the latter more interesting, for a number of reasons. Scavenging further for their quiddity, we contrast business objects in the extended sense with various concepts that, prima facie, seem related, such as components, ensembles, agents, actors and objects. Finally, we take advantage of a scheme suggested by B. Cox (1990, 1991) to synthesise our results into a layered model of software and to adumbrate why we believe that business objects in the extended sense will form the underpinnings of a new era of realistic computing

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Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference, 1999. EDOC '99. Proceedings. Third International

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