What Is Middleware, and How Does It Work?

Middleware is an essential part of building great software because it helps different types communicate with each other. Our expert introduces you to the basics here.

Written by Alex Williams
Published on Nov. 22, 2022
What Is Middleware, and How Does It Work?
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If you want to create software that billions of people can use, you need to know about middleware. Middleware is crucial because it connects different types of software, allowing smooth communication between them.

Although middleware is essential for any successful software project, to understand it correctly, you have to understand all the processes involved in building your software from scratch. So, lets dive into what middleware is and how it works.

What Is Middleware?

Middleware is software that developers use to connect applications to a network. It manages the transfer of data between different systems. Middleware essentially acts as a bridge between the front end and the back end of any application, giving them an opportunity to seamlessly transfer data and UIs between each other.

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What Is Middleware?

Middleware is software that developers use to connect applications to a network. It manages the transfer of data between different systems. Middleware essentially acts as a bridge between the front end and the back end of any application, giving them an opportunity to seamlessly transfer data and UIs between each other.

 

How Does Middleware Work?

Middleware is a layer of software that acts as a go-between for data and the user interface of any web application or website. For example, developers use middleware to manage communications between a web server and a database. But you can also use it for other tasks like connecting users to their desired actions.

Middleware is usually written in JavaScript or C#. It sits between the application and operating system without the need to install it on either side of the communication channels.

 

What Are the Applications of Middleware?

Middleware has many uses in both enterprise and platform applications, as well as to connect different platforms to their corresponding software. 

 

Enterprise

Enterprise middleware is a type of software that acts as an intermediary between enterprise applications and the network’s software components. It allows applications to collaborate regardless of their location. Enterprise middleware also provides security, reliability, and scalability.

Large organizations like corporations and government agencies use enterprise middleware, enabling them to share information across departments or subsidiaries.

Examples of common enterprise middleware include: 

 

Platform

Platform middleware extends application development and delivery frameworks, adding functionality that developers can use to build more holistic applications. Instead of targeting how the applications look, developers can target how the applications work.

It allows developers to focus on the development of their applications rather than building the underlying infrastructure needed to run them. Platform middleware can be used in a variety of ways. For example, it can provide functionalities like messaging and security, or it can be used to support specific technologies like Java or ASP.NET.

 

What Are the Types of Middleware?

In addition to these major categories, middleware has several sub-types.

Types of Middleware

  • Application programming interface (API).
  • Application server.
  • Application integration.
  • Content-centric middleware.
  • Data integration.
  • Device middleware.
  • Embedded middleware.
  • Game engines.
  • Message-oriented middleware.
  • Object request broker.
  • Portals.
  • Robotic middleware.

 

Application Programming Interface

An application programming interface (API) is a set of tools that can build APIs for the development of mobile applications on a specific operating system. You can also use API middleware to develop applications using your preferred programming language.

For example, if you want to develop an Android application, there is an API for Android. Web APIs are also standard and provide access to different web services like Facebook and Google Maps.

API includes management platforms, gateways, and developer portals. An application that has all three is IBM WebSphere.

 

Application Server

The application server is a software framework you can use to create and run enterprise applications. It provides a platform for developing, deploying, and managing applications. You can use the application server to provide services like database connectivity, message queuing, and security.

Popular application servers include GlassfishJboss, and Weblogic.

 

Application Integration

Application integration combines applications so that they can work and share information with each other. Most businesses and companies rely on a complex combination of cloud and on-premises applications. Such application integrations focus on presentation-level, business processes, data, and communications-level integration.

 

Content-centric Middleware

Content-centric middleware allows the provider and consumer to work together, sharing data needed for processing. It can include any media or document that needs to flow between applications. Document-sharing applications like Google Docs are a good example of this type of feature.

 

Data Integration

Data integration uses data from databases and other sources and combines them into a single entity. It is necessary for companies to receive and process data so that they can perform various tasks. Customer data integration can combine user data to generate average responses and activity. Companies find information like this helpful for their marketing strategies.

 

Device Middleware

Device middleware, or D-Mid, is a way for applications built in different languages to communicate with each other even if they run on the same device. D-Mid has a number of uses and benefits, including allowing developers to use an application programming interface (API) in one language to access the capabilities of another. You can see D-Mid traits in many websites like Facebook and Twitter.

 

Embedded Middleware

Embedded middleware acts as a medium between integration interfaces for its applications and operating systems. An embedded middleware serves as an interface between the application and the operating system, allowing developers to create applications that run on different platforms. The perfect example for this is cross-platform support middleware.

 

Game Engines

The game engine framework acts as a guide for graphics, physics, scripting, and networking to interact and collaborate. You can use game engines to create games for various platforms like mobile phones or computers. They also allow developers to create a game without building the software from scratch. Popular game engines include Unity and Unreal Engine.

 

Message-oriented Middleware

Message-oriented middleware is a build that supports message transactions between systems or elements in the framework both internally and externally. Applications like WhatsAppViber, and Telegram are commonly used message-oriented middleware.

 

Object Request Broker

An object request broker facilitates handling objects and services from remote systems. In a way, it is similar to logistics. It allows you to handle and manage a variety of services or objects. You can see object request brokers on applications like Alibaba and Amazon where you can transact with the merchandiser.

 

Portals

Portals are pieces of software that facilitate front-end integration, along with interactions between its back-end system and the device. They provide a way for users to access information without getting involved with the back-end system. Apache is an excellent open-source community with portals.

 

Robotic Middleware

Robotics middleware is used in complex robotics systems to allow different pieces of software to talk to each other. It acts as a kind of translator, allowing the different components of a complex robotic system to communicate.

Robotics middleware is generally used in applications where there are multiple components that need to work together as part of a larger system such as aerial drones, industrial robotics, and underwater exploration vehicles. You can see robotics middleware in CLARAty and Miro.

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Get Familiar With Middleware

Middleware is a layer of software that sits between hardware and applications. It connects applications to databases, servers and other hardware. It also helps process data, perform calculations and share resources.

Middleware can be an open-source program or a proprietary product. Most middleware is used in enterprise applications and large-scale computer networks. A common misconception is that middleware is only used in enterprise applications. In reality, middleware is an important component of many online services such as Google Docs and Facebook.

How are you planning on using middleware?

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