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Computing platform

A computing platform, digital platform,[1] or software platform is the infrastructure on which software is executed. While the individual components of a computing platform may be obfuscated under layers of abstraction, the summation of the required components comprise the computing platform.

Sometimes, the most relevant layer for a specific software is called a computing platform in itself to facilitate the communication, referring to the whole using only one of its attributes – i.e. using a metonymy.

For example, in a single computer system, this would be the computer's architecture, operating system (OS), and runtime libraries.[2] In the case of an application program or a computer video game, the most relevant layer is the operating system, so it can be called a platform itself (hence the term cross-platform for software that can be executed on multiple OSes, in this context). In a multi-computer system, such as in the case of offloading processing, it would encompass both the host computer's hardware, operating system (OS), and runtime libraries along with other computers utilized for processing that are accessed via application programming interfaces or a web browser. As long as it is a required component for the program code to execute, it is part of the computing platform.

Components

Platforms may also include:

  • Hardware alone, in the case of small embedded systems. Embedded systems can access hardware directly, without an OS; this is referred to as running on "bare metal".
  • A browser in the case of web-based software. The browser itself runs on a hardware+OS platform, but this is not relevant to software running within the browser.[3]
  • An application, such as a spreadsheet or word processor, which hosts software written in an application-specific scripting language, such as an Excel macro. This can be extended to writing fully-fledged applications with the Microsoft Office suite as a platform.[4]
  • Software frameworks that provide ready-made functionality.
  • Cloud computing and Platform as a Service. Extending the idea of a software framework, these allow application developers to build software out of components that are hosted not by the developer, but by the provider, with internet communication linking them together.[5] The social networking sites Twitter and Facebook are also considered development platforms.[6][7]
  • A virtual machine (VM) such as the Java virtual machine or .NET CLR. Applications are compiled into a format similar to machine code, known as bytecode, which is then executed by the VM.
  • A virtualized version of a complete system, including virtualized hardware, OS, software, and storage. These allow, for instance, a typical Windows program to run on what is physically a Mac.

Some architectures have multiple layers, with each layer acting as a platform for the one above it. In general, a component only has to be adapted to the layer immediately beneath it. For instance, a Java program has to be written to use the Java virtual machine (JVM) and associated libraries as a platform but does not have to be adapted to run on the Windows, Linux or Macintosh OS platforms. However, the JVM, the layer beneath the application, does have to be built separately for each OS.[8]

Operating system examples

Desktop, laptop, server

Mobile

Android, a popular mobile operating system

Software examples

Hardware examples

See also

References

  1. ^ "What I Talk About When I Talk About Platforms". martinfowler.com. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  2. ^ "platform".
  3. ^ Andrew Binstock (July 2, 2012). "Google's Redefinition of the Browser As Platform". Dr. Dobbs.
  4. ^ Chip Wilson; Alan Josephson. "Microsoft Office as a Platform for Software + Services". Microsoft Developer Network.
  5. ^ "What Is PAAS?". Interoute. Archived from the original on 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  6. ^ "Twitter Development Platform - Twitter Developers".
  7. ^ "Facebook Development Platform Launches..." Facebook. August 15, 2006.
  8. ^ "Platform independence in Java's Byte Code". Stack Overflow.
  9. ^ "The Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons". Mozilla Add-ons Blog. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  10. ^ "Upcoming Changes in Compatibility Features". Mozilla Add-ons Blog. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  11. ^ "How to enable legacy extensions in Firefox 57 - gHacks Tech News". www.ghacks.net. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  12. ^ "Porting a Google Chrome extension". Mozilla. Retrieved 30 December 2018.

External links

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