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Advanced CORBA® Programming with C++

Advanced CORBA® Programming with C++

3.5 2
by Michi Henning

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Here is the CORBA book that every C++ software engineer has been waiting for. Advanced CORBA® Programming with C++ provides designers and developers with the tools required to understand CORBA technology at the architectural, design, and source code levels. This book offers hands-on explanations for building efficient applications, as well as


Here is the CORBA book that every C++ software engineer has been waiting for. Advanced CORBA® Programming with C++ provides designers and developers with the tools required to understand CORBA technology at the architectural, design, and source code levels. This book offers hands-on explanations for building efficient applications, as well as lucid examples that provide practical advice on avoiding costly mistakes. With this book as a guide, programmers will find the support they need to successfully undertake industrial-strength CORBA development projects.

The content is systematically arranged and presented so the book may be used as both a tutorial and a reference. The rich example programs in this definitive text show CORBA developers how to write clearer code that is more maintainable, portable, and efficient. The authors' detailed coverage of the IDL-to-C++ mapping moves beyond the mechanics of the APIs to discuss topics such as potential pitfalls and efficiency. An in-depth presentation of the new Portable Object Adapter (POA) explains how to take advantage of its numerous features to create scalable and high-performance servers. In addition, detailed discussion of advanced topics, such as garbage collection and multithreading, provides developers with the knowledge they need to write commercial applications.

Other highlights

  • In-depth coverage of IDL, including common idioms and design trade-offs
  • Complete and detailed explanations of the Life Cycle, Naming, Trading, and Event Services
  • Discussion of IIOP and implementation repositories
  • Insight into the dynamic aspects of CORBA, such as dynamic typing and the new DynAny interfaces
  • Advice on selecting appropriate application architectures and designs
  • Detailed, portable, and vendor-independent source code

Editorial Reviews

Designed for software engineers and programmers, this excellent tutorial and reference helps you code in C++ for CORBA applications and interoperability. Authors Michi Henning and Steve Vinoski based this programming guide on advanced courses for C++ programmers, therefore familiarity with basic CORBA concepts, ORBs and the CORBA framework is assumed - as is familiarity with C++ at an intermediate to advanced level. This publication is based on CORBA 2.3.


  • In this six-part text, Henning and Vinoski guide you through CORBA fundamentals, mechanisms and services.
  • They lead you into CORBA``s Interface Definition Language (IDL) and examine IDL to C++ mapping including client and server side C++ mapping. This text also includes a pretty thorough discussion of the new Portable Object Adapter covering fundamentals, policies, activation and destruction.
  • A climate control system is developed as an ongoing example.
  • The authors examine GIOP, IIOP, IORs and other CORBA mechanisms. They also discuss dynamic CORBA (essential for generic applications, browsers or protocol bridges).
  • CORBA naming, trading and event services are reviewed extensively. The authors also examine power CORBA implementations of multithreaded servers, design, performance, scalability and maintainability issues.


  • This is an excellent advanced guide and reference for C++ programmers coping with the distributed object paradigm and CORBA framework integration. Please note that this is by no means an easy tutorial; it``s suitable for advanced programmers.
  • The appendices contain source code for the ICPsimulator, if you wish to experiment.
  • Source code from this book is also available for downloading.

Related Titles:

If you are just getting started with C++ and CORBA integration, please check C++ Programming with CORBA and COM CORBA Interoperability. You may also be interested in CORBA Programming Unleashed; it contains information on services, vendor extensions and implementation issues.

Explains CORBA technology at the architectural, design and source code levels of commercial application construction, and offers examples that provide practical advice on avoiding costly mistakes. The guide features discussion of IDL-to-C++ mapping, the new portable object adapter (POA), garbage collection, multithreading, and the naming, trading and event services. For C++ engineers familiar with CORBA, inheritance, virtual functions, operator overloading, templates, and threaded code. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Read an Excerpt


For years, both of us have been (and still are) teaching CORBA
programming with C++ to software engineers all over the world. One of
the most frequently asked questions in our courses is, "Where can I find
a book that covers all this?" Although many books have been written
about CORBA, most of them focus on high-level concepts and do not
address the needs of software engineers. Even though CORBA is
conceptually simple, the devil lies in the detail. Or, more bluntly, books
focusing on high-level concepts are of little use when you must find out
why your program is dumping core.

To be sure, there are resources available about CORBA, such as
newsgroups, Web pages, and the Object Management Group (OMG)
specifications. However, none of them really meets the needs of a
programmer who must get the code to work (and preferably by
yesterday). We wrote this book so that there would finally be a tutorial
and reference that covers CORBA programming with C++ at the level
of detail required for real-life software development. (And, of course, we
wrote it so that we would have a good answer for our students.)

Writing such a book is a tall order. Explaining the CORBA specification
and APIs is one thing, and it's a necessary part of the book. However,
knowing the various APIs will not, by itself, make you a competent
programmer (only a knowledgeable one). To be competent, you need not
only knowledge of the mechanics of the platform but also an
understanding of how the different features interact. You must combine
them effectively to end up with an application that performs and scales
well and is maintainable, extensible, portable, and deployable.

To help you become competent (as opposed to merely knowledgeable),
we go beyond the basics in a number of ways. For one thing, we provide
advice as to what we consider good (and bad) design, and we make no
attempt to hide problems with CORBA (which, like any other complex
software system, has its share of wrinkles). Second, we go beyond the
APIs by explaining some of CORBA's internal mechanisms. Even
though you can use an ORB without knowing what goes on under the
hood, it is useful to understand these mechanisms because they have a
profound influence on how well (or how poorly) an application will
perform. Third, we devote considerable space to a discussion of the
merits of various design decisions; typically, when a design provides a
gain in one area it also involves a loss in another. Understanding these
trade-offs is crucial to building successful applications. And fourth, where
appropriate, we make recommendations so that you are not left without

Inevitably, our approach required us to make value judgments, and, just
as inevitably, a number of people will disagree with at least some of the
recommendations we make. Whether you agree or disagree with us, you
should still profit from our approach: if you agree, you can stick to the
advice we give; if you disagree, the discussion will have at least
encouraged you to think about the topic and form your own opinion.
Either way, you are better off than you would be with a book that just
dumps the facts on you without providing the deeper insight required to
use them.


This book is not a beginner's book, in the sense that we do not devote
much space to explaining the structure of the OMG or the specification
adoption process. We also do not provide a high-level overview of the
architectural goals of CORBA or all its services and facilities (see [31]
for a high-level overview). Instead, we assume that you want to know
how to write real CORBA applications with C++. Despite the lack of
overview material, you should be able to follow the material even if you
have never seen CORBA before. If you have experience in network
programming or have used another RPC platform, you will find it easy to
pick things up as you go.

Much of this book consists of source code, so we expect you to be
literate in C++. However, you do not need to be a C++ guru to follow the
code. We have avoided obscure or little-understood features of C++,
preferring clarity to cleverness. If you understand inheritance, virtual
functions, operator overloading, and templates (not necessarily in intricate
detail), you will have no problems. Some of the source code uses the
Standard Template Library (STL), which is now part of the ISO/IEC
C++ Standard. We have limited ourselves to very simple uses of this
library, so you should be able to understand the source code even if you
have never seen STL code before.

If you have never written threaded code, you will find the chapter on
writing threaded servers tough going. Unfortunately, there was not
enough room to provide an introduction to programming with threads.
However, the Bibliography lists a number of excellent books on the topic.

Despite our best efforts to show realistic and working source code, we
had to make a number of compromises to keep code examples
understandable and of manageable size. When we demonstrate a
particular feature, we often use straight-line code, whereas in a realistic
application the code would better be encapsulated in a class or helper
function. We have also minimized error handling to avoid obscuring the
flow of control with lots of exception handlers. We chose this approach
for didactic purposes; it does not imply that the code pretends to reflect
best possible engineering practice. (The Bibliography lists a number of
excellent books that cover source code design in great detail.)

Scope of this Book

OMG members are continually improving CORBA and adding new
features. As a result, available ORB implementations conform to
different revision levels of the specification. This book covers CORBA
2.3. (At the time of writing, CORBA 2.3 is being finalized by the OMG.)
Throughout the text, we indicate new features that may not yet be
available in your ORB implementation; this allows you to restrict yourself
to an earlier feature set for maximum portability.

Despite its size, our main regret is that this book is too short.
Ever-increasing page counts and ever-closer deadlines forced us to drop
chapters on the Dynamic Invocation Interface (DII), the Dynamic
Skeleton Interface (DSI), and the Interface Repository (IFR).
Fortunately, the vast majority of applications do not need those features,
so dropping these chapters is not much of a loss. If your application
happens to require the dynamic interfaces, the background we provide
here will enable you to easily pick up what you need from the CORBA

Another feature notable by its absence is Objects-By-Value (OBV). We
chose not to cover OBV because it is too new for anyone to have any
substantial engineering experience with it. In addition, at the time of
writing, there are still a number of technical wrinkles to be ironed out and
we expect the OBV specification to undergo further changes before it
settles down.

Size and time limitations also meant that we could not cover every
possible CORBA service. For example, we did not cover the Transaction
Service or Security Service because each of them would require a book
of its own. Rather than being complete, we have restricted ourselves to
those services that are most essential for building applications: the
Naming, Trading, and Event Services. We cover those services in more
detail than any other publication we are aware of.

An important part of this book is the presentation of the Portable Object
Adapter (POA), which was added in CORBA 2.2. The POA provides
the server-side source code portability that was missing from the (now
deprecated) Basic Object Adapter. The POA also provides a number of
features that are essential for building high-performance and scalable
applications. We have therefore paid particular attention to showing you
how to use the POA effectively in your designs.

Overall, we believe this book offers the most comprehensive coverage to
date of CORBA programming with C++. We have arranged the material
so that you can use the book both as a tutorial and as a reference. Our
hope is that after the first reading, you will have this book open at your
side when you are sitting at your terminal. If so, we will have achieved
our goal of creating a book that is used by real engineers to build real


As with any book, the authors are only part of the story, and this is the
place to thank the large number of people who have contributed to
making this book possible. At Addison Wesley Longman, Mike
Hendrickson and our editor, Deborah Lafferty, believed us when we told
them that this book needed to be written. Without their faith in us, you
would not be reading this. Brian Kernighan reviewed several drafts and
made us redo the job where necessary. His clarity of thought and critical
eye have greatly improved this book. John Fuller and Genevieve
Rajewski, our production editors, put up with all our naive questions and
enabled two amateurs to take a book to camera-ready stage. Our copy
editor, Betsy Hardinger, edited every page in this book with meticulous
attention to detail. Her efforts taught us more about clarity of style than
we thought possible.

Particular thanks go to Colm Bergin, Jonathan Biggar, Bart Hanlon,
Jishnu Mukerji, and Doug Schmidt, our expert reviewers. They read the
entire manuscript and spotted many problems that would have otherwise
gone unnoticed. Their comments kept us honest throughout. Alan
Shalloway reviewed the book from the perspective of a newcomer and
made valuable suggestions on how to improve the presentation of some
of the more difficult topics.

Todd Goldman and Tim Gill from Hewlett-Packard gave us permission to
draw on earlier ORB training material written by Michi. John Vinoski and
Dan Rabideau of Green Bay Engraving take credit for designing the
Möbius strip on the cover.

We are grateful to Steve's employer, IONA Technologies, for allowing
us to use the next generation of their Orbix product (called "ART") to
develop and test our code examples. Their generosity provided us with
the opportunity to make sure that our examples were correct and
functional. The fact that ART conforms to CORBA 2.3 allowed us to
target the most recent version of the CORBA specification available as
of this writing.

We also would like to thank the many contributors to comp.object.corba
and the corba-dev mailing list. The discussions there have influenced
much of the content of this book.

Michi's Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my former employer, DSTC Pty Ltd, for providing
me with an environment that was conducive to writing. Joachim
Achtzehnter, Martin Chilvers, Wil Evers, Ted McFadden, and Michael
Neville reviewed parts of the manuscript and made valuable suggestions
for improvement. Particular thanks go to David Jackson, who read all my
drafts and made sure that loose ends were not allowed to remain
hanging. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Jocelyn, and our son,
Tyson, for their love and encouragement. Without their support and
patience, this book would have never been written.

Steve's Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my employer, IONA Technologies, for supporting
my efforts to write this book, which occasionally kept me away from the
office. In particular, I would like to thank Barry Morris for his support
and encouragement, Stephen Keating for taking up the slack when I had
to miss work because of all-night writing sessions, and the whole IONA
Boston product development team for their patience and support.

I would also like to thank Bart Hanlon, who not only reviewed this book
but also was my manager at my former employer, for continually
encouraging me for several years to tackle this project and for teaching
me a lot about tackling projects in general. In the technical realm, I have
learned from many people over the course of my career, but I owe much
to John Morris, Craig Bardenheuer, Denis deRuijter, Dale LaBossiere,
Tom Moreau, and Bob Kukura, who at one time or another greatly
influenced my education in the realms of distributed systems and
engineering in general. I would also like to thank my C++ Report
co-columnist, Doug Schmidt, a true technical visionary whose work in
object-oriented network programming, C++ frameworks, and CORBA
has paved the way for books such as this one. He not only helped review
this book, but also agreed to let me use material from our columns in
writing it.

Finally, without the support of my family, I would have never been able to
even consider writing this book. I'd like to thank my wife, Cindy, and our
children, Ryan and Erin, for putting up with my extremely long hours and
days of writing and working. Thanks also to my parents, Ed and Dooley,
who have always supported me with their seemingly limitless patience
and love. I also owe my brother, John, a special thanks for his wonderful
artwork on our book cover.

Michi Henning and Steve Vinoski
October 1998

Meet the Author

Michi Henning is Chief Scientist of ZeroC, Inc, where he is responsible for research and development of next-generation middleware technologies. Michi has spent many years on CORBA-related research, as well as CORBA consulting and training for international customers. He has contributed to numerous OMG specifications, was a member of the OMG Architecture Board, and was chair of the OMG's C++ Revision Task Force.

Steve Vinoski is Chief Engineer of Product Innovation for IONA Technologies, PLC. He has coauthored several important OMG specifications, including the OMG IDL C++ Language Mapping specification, and he previously served as the chair of the OMG C++ Revision Task Force. Steve is also the author of the "Toward Integration" middleware column in IEEE Internet Computing, and coauthor of the "Object Interconnections" column in the C/C++ Users Journal. He frequently presents at middleware conferences around the globe.

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Advanced CORBA Programming with C++ 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book contains everything you need to use C++ to implement clients and servers on 'The ACE ORB'. Considering that you can obtain all of the tools (GNU C++, Postgres, ACE and TAO, Perl ... all of the usual suspects) from the Net, this book is the only thing you need to purchase, to begin working with CORBA. I found it to be the most valuable CORBA resource available to me in my first two CORBA projects.