How often do you hear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? In our case, the beholder was NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission, and it had very strict requirements that the mission’s software systems be functional, reliable, and robust. Oh, and the software also had to be completed on schedule—Mars would not accept any excuses for schedule slips. When NASA talks about meeting “launch windows,” it means it in more ways than one!
This chapter describes the design and development of Collaborative Information Portal, or CIP, which is a large enterprise information system developed at NASA and used by mission managers, engineers, and scientists worldwide.
Martians have zero tolerance for ugly software. For CIP, the notion of beauty is not so much about elegant algorithms or programs that you can stand back and admire. Rather, beauty is embodied in a complex software structure built by master builders who knew just where to pound in the nails. Large applications can be beautiful in ways that small programs often are not. This is due both to increased necessity and to greater opportunity—large applications often have to do things that small programs don’t need to. We’ll take a look at CIP’s overall Java-based service-oriented architecture, and then, by focusing on one of its services as a case study, examine some code snippets and study some of the nails that enable the system to meet the functionality, ...