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A brief history of how we develop information systems

Hi Folks,

I've compiled, from the references listed at the bottom, a brief history of the way that information systems are developed. Of interest to me is that it shows the gradual liberating of data, user interface, workflow, and most recently, enabling data to move about freely.

I welcome your thoughts.  /Roger

1. 1965-1975: Divide-and-Conquer

Information systems were decomposed into applications, each with their own databases.  There were few interactive programs, and those that did exist had interfaces tightly coupled to the application program. Workflow was managed individually and in non-standard ways.

2. 1975-1985: Standardize the Management of Data

Data became a first class citizen. Managing the data was extracted from application programs. Data was managed by a database management system. Applications were able to focus on data processing, not data management.

3. 1985-1995: Standardize the Management of User Interface

As more and more interactive software was developed, user interfaces were extracted from the applications. User interfaces were developed in a standard way.

4. 1995-2005: Standardize the Management of Workflow

The business processes and their handling were isolated and extracted from applications, and specified in a standard way. A workflow management system managed the workflows and organized the processing of tasks and the management of resources. 

5. 2005-2009: Data-on-the-Move (Portable Data)

Rather than data sitting around in a database waiting to be queried by applications, data became portable, enabling applications to exchange, merge, and transform data in mobile documents.  Standardized data formats (i.e. standardized XML vocabularies) became important. Artifact-, document-centric architectures became common.


1. Workflow Management by Wil van der Aalst and Kees van Hee

2. Building Workflow Applications by Michael Kay

3. Business artifacts: An approach to operational specification by A. Nigam and N.S. Caswell

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