Naked Objects
By Richard Pawson and Robert Matthews


The ideas now embodied in Naked Objects are based on ten years' research into object-oriented techniques, architectures for business agility, and 'expressive systems', undertaken by Richard, and funded throughout by CSC's Research Services. We gratefully acknowledge their generosity in allowing the fruits of this research to now be made public, as well as the contribution made by Richard's colleagues within CSC during many discussions and debates. Three years ago, Richard teamed up with Robert Matthews, longstanding friend and former colleague, who set about designing a Java framework to embody the design principles arising from this research.

Although some have hailed Naked Objects as an important new idea, we prefer to see it as an attempt to get back to an old idea. What led to Naked Objects was our belief that the most powerful aspects of the original concept of object-orientation, now almost four decades old, are not understood by most people who claim to practice OO. We have tried to summarise the insights of some of pioneers in object-oriented software design in the first section of the book, but regret that this story is by no means comprehensive. We are deeply indebted to these great thinkers. Some of the folk whose work we have admired for years - Alan Kay, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, Oliver Sims, Dave Thomas - have given us active encouragement on this project, have helped to get our ideas more widely known, and have made incisive criticism of early drafts. Many others provided useful feedback on later manuscripts, including James Cooper, Ian Graham, Kevlin Henney, Alan Griffiths, Dan Haywood, and Andrew Broughton. The rigorous demands of Richard's PhD supervisor, Vincent Wade at Trinity College Dublin, have indirectly led to many improvements in this book.

Equally important has been the contribution of those who have already put our ideas into practice. The Department of Social and Family Affairs in Ireland was the first organisation to take Richard's ideas seriously, and is now already into its second major phase of development, using the same design principles as Naked Objects, although with its own technology. The team at DSFA - Philip, Niall, Joan, JB, Helen, Peg and so many others - has been a joy to work with over the last three years. Their constant challenges mean that the design principles have truly been through a testing of fire!

At Norsk Hydro, Ragnar Blekeli saw the potential of Naked Objects and kept plugging away within his organisation until he could get together their first exploratory project. The folks at Safeway have done the most to turn Naked Objects into a viable tool for developing real business systems. Rick Smith has been a tireless champion for our work there. Dave Slaughter, a powerhouse developer, has become Robert's principal thought partner on the infrastructural side of the framework. His linking of Naked Objects to EJB, and implementation on a mainframe server, put paid to the sceptics' predictions that naked objects would not meet enterprise performance requirements. Many others there have applied our concepts, tested them, and made several suggestions for improvements. Special thanks to Suki, Alison, Pam, Ian, and Chris.

Prior to this book we have done little to publicize Naked Objects. Yet the community of developers has been growing steadily. Robert would like to thank those developers who have been involved in testing the framework or have made specific contributions and suggestions, specifically Frank Harper, Paul Hammant, Sylvian Liege, Paul M Bethe, Mark Crocker, Bjarte Walaker, Lindsay Laird and Per Lundholm.

The book itself was a team effort. We thank Karen Mosman for championing our cause within Wiley, and Robert Hambrook for being willing to innovate with the production technology despite a very short schedule. And thanks, too, for letting us work with our favourite editor, Anne Pappenheim, and designer, Ian Head, who was also responsible for the Naked Objects logo used on the cover.

Finally, we thank our respective families for putting up with the long hours and frustrations that any book seems to involve, and for patiently explaining to friends that our 'naked objects' project wasn't what they thought it was ;-)

Richard Pawson and Robert Matthews, August 2002