These black box processes can be reconnected endlessly to form different applications without having to be changed internally. Flow-based programming suppose the joint pdf of lifetimes of a certain part applications using the metaphor of a “data factory”.
In this view, the focus is on the application data and the transformations applied to it to produce the desired outputs. The network is defined externally to the processes, as a list of connections which is interpreted by a piece of software, usually called the “scheduler”. The processes communicate by means of fixed-capacity connections. More than one process can execute the same piece of code. At any point in time, a given IP can only be “owned” by a single process, or be in transit between two processes. It is the combination of ports with asynchronous processes that allows many long-running primitive functions of data processing, such as Sort, Merge, Summarize, etc.
Because FBP processes can continue executing as long they have data to work on and somewhere to put their output, FBP applications generally run in less elapsed time than conventional programs, and make optimal use of all the processors on a machine, with no special programming required to achieve this. The network definition is usually diagrammatic, and is converted into a connection list in some lower-level language or notation. More complex network definitions have a hierarchical structure, being built up from subnets with “sticky” connections. Indeed, given a scheduler written in a sufficiently low-level language, components written in different languages can be linked together in a single network.
FBP fits a number of the criteria for such an architecture, albeit at a more fine-grained level than most examples of this architecture. FBP promotes high-level, functional style of specifications that simplify reasoning about system behavior. Flow-Based Programming was invented by J. Paul Morrison in the early 1970s, and initially implemented in software for a Canadian bank. One large application in Canada went live in 1975, and, as of 2013, has been in continuous production use, running daily, for almost 40 years. IBM Systems Journal under the name DSLM. Japan in the late ’80s under the name “Data Flow Programming Manager”.
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