Richard Turner posts a response letter to the whole Distributed System White paper thingie. I thought it might be interesting (to me, at least) to respond briefly with my thoughts on it.

I think both John and Richard (and several others) have made good points over this discussion. Personally, I think the whole discussion has been very enlightening and entertaining, and I do feel that John's critique does actually make sense and he has good points overall.

I'm a little baffled, though, as to how Richard claims that "The paper never states explicitly, or proposes to provide, guidance on best practices for how to actually go about designing distributed systems". At first light, I would've agreed.

BUT, I think one key point of what John has been articulating in his posts (at least it seems to me this way) is that the way the underlying technology and API is framed has a significant effect on how you think about and how you design your distributed system. Thus, you can't really talk about how to use the technology available to build distributed systems in the best possible way without also hinting at the best way to conceive and design it (at least up to a certain point). A leacky abstraction, and one I don't feel all that comfortable with this, but that's what we end up with given the state of affairs.

Consider this in the light that what John has been talking about is not the way indigo works, but rather about the abstractions that indigo provides for building your distributed system and how it shapes your perception of how to design the system in the first place. That is pretty significant, imho, particularly given that MS is trying to bring all of its previous distributed systems under the Indigo umbrella and thus under a single API and programming model.

On a closing note, I do feel that the whole discussion is getting out of hand and escalating to a level that is both unnecessary and potentially offensive. I've read both Richard's post, as well as the several answers to John's posts from Steve Swartz, and I'm under the unfortunate impression that a whole defensive attitude is being build up that is not productive and doesn't help the discussion at all. Things like Richard saying that "Instead, you berate me, and the WCF team..." and the whole tirade that follows is, well, silly. Please let's not make this into a "WCF team against the world/customers/customer/someone" fiasco. It does not help Indigo, it does not help Microsoft, it does not help ourselves (a.k.a the customers/developers) and it most as certainly does not make you sound more credible and professional.


Tomas Restrepo

Software developer located in Colombia. Sr. PFE at Microsoft.