Persistent programming systems are designed to provide technology for the construction and maintenance of large, long-lived object-based application systems. Many successful prototypes have been constructed and a large body of application building experience is emerging. Three common attributes of persistent systems are persistent linkage, strong typing, and the referential integrity of data. Persistent linkage allows persistent objects to be included in the binding process. Strong typing guarantees that objects are only manipulated in a manner consistent with their type system descriptions. Referential integrity ensures that once a link (reference) to an object is established, its identity is unique and it persists over time. As a consequence no object can be deleted while another refers to it. Here we examine some of the advantages of providing software engineering environments within a persistent object system with strong typing and referential integrity. It is shown how the integration of system specifications, programs, configuration management tools and documentation all within a single persistent environment leads to powerful new techniques. This new power is achieved by sharing structured persistent data across the hitherto enclosing boundaries of system components.
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