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Re: A brief history of how we develop information systems


The description of each of these stages seems awfully simplistic (I  
expect you know that), but stage 1 really needs some work.  You start  
out with "information systems" that "were decomposed" into  
applications.  In fact, of course, what you generally had to start  
with were individual applications that had been separately developed,  
each with its own "file or files" (not "databases"), and often with  
lots of redundancy in the various application files.   The whole  
"database" idea was an attempt to first at least identify, and then  
eliminate, this redundancy (and often associated inconsistency), all  
the redundant processing that was involved in keeping all these files  
updated (e.g., having to run multiple applications to keep "customer  
address" updated in multiple files when the customer moved), and the  
inflexibility when a new combination of data was needed for some new  
application.  The first stage was really "automate (part of) your own  
problem".   You can call each of those applications (or cluster of  
applications) an "information system" if you want, but the real  
"information system" thing started when people started to look at all  
those apps and their associated data as something to be organized (and  
it couldn't really have started before then).  At least that's my take.


On Apr 13, 2009, at 7:46 AM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> I've compiled, from the references listed at the bottom, a brief  
> history of the way that information systems are developed. Of  
> interest to me is that it shows the gradual liberating of data, user  
> interface, workflow, and most recently, enabling data to move about  
> freely.
> I welcome your thoughts.  /Roger
> 1. 1965-1975: Divide-and-Conquer
> Information systems were decomposed into applications, each with  
> their own databases.  There were few interactive programs, and those  
> that did exist had interfaces tightly coupled to the application  
> program. Workflow was managed individually and in non-standard ways.
> 2. 1975-1985: Standardize the Management of Data
> Data became a first class citizen. Managing the data was extracted  
> from application programs. Data was managed by a database management  
> system. Applications were able to focus on data processing, not data  
> management.
> 3. 1985-1995: Standardize the Management of User Interface
> As more and more interactive software was developed, user interfaces  
> were extracted from the applications. User interfaces were developed  
> in a standard way.
> 4. 1995-2005: Standardize the Management of Workflow
> The business processes and their handling were isolated and  
> extracted from applications, and specified in a standard way. A  
> workflow management system managed the workflows and organized the  
> processing of tasks and the management of resources.
> 5. 2005-2009: Data-on-the-Move (Portable Data)
> Rather than data sitting around in a database waiting to be queried  
> by applications, data became portable, enabling applications to  
> exchange, merge, and transform data in mobile documents.   
> Standardized data formats (i.e. standardized XML vocabularies)  
> became important. Artifact-, document-centric architectures became  
> common.
> References:
> 1. Workflow Management by Wil van der Aalst and Kees van Hee
> 2. Building Workflow Applications by Michael Kay
> 3. Business artifacts: An approach to operational specification by  
> A. Nigam and N.S. Caswell
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