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Middleware is a type of computer software program that provides services to software applications beyond those available from the . It can be described as "software glue".

Middleware makes it easier for software developers to implement communication and input/output, so they can focus on the specific purpose of their application. It gained popularity in the 1980s as a solution to the problem of how to link newer applications to older legacy systems, although the term had been in use since 1968.


In distributed applications
The term is most commonly used for software that enables communication and management of data in distributed applications. An workshop in 2000 defined middleware as "those services found above the (i.e. over TCP/IP) layer set of services but below the application environment" (i.e. below application-level APIs). In this more specific sense middleware can be described as the dash ("-") in , or the -to- in . Middleware includes , application servers, content management systems, and similar tools that support application development and delivery.
(2024). 9781498754101, CRC Press. .

ObjectWeb defines middleware as: "The software layer that lies between the and applications on each side of a distributed computing system in a network." Services that can be regarded as middleware include enterprise application integration, , message oriented middleware (MOM), object request brokers (ORBs), and the enterprise service bus (ESB).

(2024). 9781118171851, John Wiley & Sons. .

access services are often characterised as middleware. Some of them are language specific implementations and support heterogeneous features and other related communication features.

(2024). 9781483214276, Academic Press. .
Examples of database-oriented middleware include , and transaction processing monitors.
(2024). 9781587140747, Cisco Press. .

Distributed computing system middleware can loosely be divided into two categories—those that provide human-time services (such as web request servicing) and those that perform in machine-time. This latter middleware is somewhat standardized through the and is commonly used in complex, within telecom, defence and industries.

(2024). 9781119941675, John Wiley & Sons.


Usage of middleware
Many definitions exist regarding the categorization of middleware specifying either on the field that it is used or the application module it serves. In recent bibliography, the main categories of middleware are the following:
  • Transactional: Processing of multiple synchronous/ asynchronous transactions, serving as a cluster of associated requests from distributed systems such as bank transactions or credit card payments.
  • Message-oriented: Message queue and message passing architectures, which support synchronous/asynchronous communication.
  • Procedural: Remote and local architectures to connect, pass, and retrieve software responses of asynchronous systems communications such as a call operation.
  • Object-oriented: Similar to procedural middleware, however, this type of middleware incorporates object-oriented programming design principles. Analytically, its software component encompasses object references, exceptions, and inheritance of properties via distributed object request.


Other examples
The term middleware is used in other contexts as well. Middleware is sometimes used in a similar sense to a , an abstraction layer that hides detail about hardware devices or other software from an application.
  • The Android operating system uses the kernel at its core, and also provides an application framework that developers incorporate into their applications. In addition, Android provides a middleware layer including that provide services such as data storage, screen display, , and web browsing. Because the middleware libraries are to , services execute quickly. Middleware libraries also implement device-specific functions, so applications and the application framework need not concern themselves with variations between various Android devices. Android's middleware layer also contains the and its core Java application libraries.Charlie Collins, Michael Galpin and Matthias Kaeppler, Android in Practice, Manning Publications, 2011
  • Middleware also refers to the software that separates two or more APIs and provides services such as rate-limiting, authentication, and logging.
  • software such as and are sometimes described as middleware, because they provide many services to simplify game development.
    (2024). 9780131687431, Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • In simulation technology, middleware is generally used in the context of the high level architecture (HLA) that applies to many distributed simulations. It is a layer of software that lies between the and the run-time infrastructure. Middleware generally consists of a library of functions, and enables a number of applications—simulations or federates in HLA terminology—to these functions from the common library rather than re-create them for each application.
    (2024). 9783540455820, Springer.
  • Wireless networking developers can use middleware to meet the challenges associated with a wireless sensor network (WSN). Implementing a middleware application allows WSN developers to integrate operating systems and hardware with the wide variety of various applications that are currently available.Hadim, S. and Mohamed, N. (2006). Middleware challenges and approaches for wireless sensor networks. IEEE Distributed Systems Online vol 7. Issue 3. Retrieved March 4, 2009 from
iEEE Distributed Systems Online
  • The operating system offers middleware for providing multimedia services for use in , and other environments.
  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) software toolkits provide middleware to filter noisy and redundant raw data.
    (2024). 9780596009441, O'Reilly Media. .


See also
  • Language-agnostic
  • Third-party software component


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