is interestingly different from CORBA

gRPC looks very interesting. From a quick browse of the site, it looks like it differs from CORBA primarily in that

  • It is first-order.
  • It eschews exceptions.
  • It supports streaming requests and/or responses.

(That’s setting aside differences between protobufs and GIOP.)

It’s the first point that I think is likely to be the big win. Much of the complexity I saw with CORBA was to do with trying to pass object (i.e. service endpoint) references back and forth in a transparent way. Drop that misfeature, and everything from the IDL to the protocol to the frameworks to the error handling to the implementations of services themselves will be much simpler.

The way streaming is integrated is interesting too. There’s a clear separation between (finite) data, including lists/arrays, in the protobuf message-definition language, and (possibly non-finite) behavior in the gRPC service-definition language. Streams, being coinductive, fit naturally in the service-definition part.