Maintainable systems with a business object approach


The concept of Business Objects (BOs) has been recently promoted as a new way of exploiting object‐orientation for achieving large‐grain reuse. In this paper, we address the issue of how to effectively re‐engineer business software applications using BOs as a reuse technique. To this end, we first identify the reuse features of business objects and then compare them with other reuse techniques. In addition, we show that software re‐engineering can be more economical when business objects are used. Our work also provides guidance on how to develop and use a Business Object Architecture (BOA), which is shared by a group of interrelated and interdependent software applications. We argue that such architecture allows for more efficient reuse and better maintainability and it is illustrated by means of a case study in a realistic manufacturing environment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Biggerstaff, T. and A. Perlis, Eds. (1989), Software Reusability, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Byrne, E. J. (1992), "A Conceptual Foundation for Software Re-engineering," In IEEE Conference on Software Maintenance, pp. 226-235.

  3. Canfora, G., A. Cimitile, and M. Munro (1994), "RE2: Reverse-engineering and Reuse Re-engineering," Software Maintenance: Research and Practice 6, 53-72.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Dunn, M. F. and J. C. Knight (1991), "Software Reuse in an Industrial Setting: A Case Study," In 13th ICSE, IEEE, pp. 329-338.

  5. Emmerich, W. and E. Ellmer (1998), "Business Objects: The Next Step in Component Technology?" In Proceedings of CBISE'98 CaiSE*98 Workshop on Component Based Information Systems, Pisa, Italy, J. Grundy, Ed., Technical report 98/12, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, pp. 21-26.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Gamma, E. et al. (1994), Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hordijk, W. (1999), "Re-engineering an Existing Object-Oriented System with Business Objects," Master thesis at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Hordijk, W., S. Molterer, B. Paech, and C. Salzmann (1998), "Working with Business Objects-A Case Study," In Business Object Design and Implementation II, D. Patel, J. Sutherland, and J. Miller, Eds., Springer-Verlag.

  9. Hung, K., Y. Sun, and T. Rose (1997), "A Dynamic Business Object Architecture for an Insurance Industrial Project," In 4th Intl. Object-Oriented Information System Conference, pp. 145-156.

  10. IBM (1998), "IBM San Francisco Extension Guide,"

  11. Jacobson, I., M. Griss, and P. Johnson (1997), Software Reuse: Architecture, Process and Organization for Business Success, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Karlsson, E.-A., Ed. (1995), Software Reuse-A Holistic Approach, Wiley, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Krueger, C. W. (1992), "Software Reuse," ACM Computing Surveys 24, 2, 131-183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Lauesen, S. (1998), "Real-Life Object-Oriented Systems," IEEE SoftwareMarch/April, 76-83.

  15. OMG (1998), "Combined Business Object Facility: Business Object Component Architecture," Technical Report OMG Document bom/98-01-07, OMG.

  16. Salzmann, C. (1999), "Managing Shared Business Objects," In Proceedings of ICSE Workshop Engineering Distributed Objects EDO'99, W. Emmerich and V. Gruhn, Eds., Department of Computer Science, University College London,

  17. Sametinger, J. (1997), Software Engineering with Reusable Components, Springer-Verlag.

  18. Shelton, R. (1998), "Enterprise Re-Use," Distributed Computing Monitor 10, 3, 3-21.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Tilley, S. (1998), "A Reverse-engineering Environment Framework," Technical Report CMU/SEI-98-TR-005, Carnegee Mellon University.

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hordijk, W., Molterer, S., Salzmann, C. et al. Maintainable systems with a business object approach. Annals of Software Engineering 9, 273–292 (2000).

Download citation


  • Class Diagram
  • Business Logic
  • Business Object
  • Object Management Group
  • Software Reuse