Books - COM & XML (August 1999)

PDM book reviews “Distributed Applications with COM and VB”, and “Building an XML-based application.”

We omitted a key reference from last month’s Microsoft-centric PDM, a book which explains COM and Microsoft’s strategy for distributed applications and object technology. Despite the focused title “Distributed Applications with COM and Visual Basic” is actually an excellent backgrounder in object technology and related developments such as Microsoft Transaction Server.


It is also instructive in our current study of XML, which is conspicuously absent from the book, published in 1998. But by understanding what COM is, you can see why Microsoft are keen on XML. COM was released with OLE2 in 1993 and marketing mystique has led to considerable terminology overlap with OLE and ActiveX which Pattison describes as “a new sexier term for the Internet”. In reality, COM applications are restricted to networked computers running Microsoft operating systems. Given that the vast majority of computers that run the web are UNIX boxes, this is quite a handicap.

Enter XML.

Building an XML-based Application is currently only available in French, but an English translation is in the offing. The book is provides ample technical information on XML, and related technologies such as XSL and CSS, but is also very aware of the marketplace. In fact the Application of the title involves an XML EDI data exchange between a UNIX shop, deploying Sun’s Java Project X and an all-Microsoft trading partner. This underscores the ‘other’ key usage of XML - interoperability. 

Building an XML-based Application by JC Bernadac and F. Knab (Eyrolles, 1999).

Distributed Applications with COM and Visual Basic by T. Pattison (Microsoft Press, 1998)

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