The paper focuses on the design of networked embedded systems which cooperate to provide complex distributed applications. A milestone in the effort of simplifying the implementation of such applications has been the introduction of a service layer, named middleware, which abstracts from the peculiarities of the operating system and HW components. However, the presence of the middleware has not been yet introduced in the design flow as an explicit dimension. This work presents an abstract model of middleware supporting different programming paradigms; it can be used as component in the design flow and allows to simulate and develop the application without doing premature assumptions on the actual HW/SW platform. At the end of the design flow the abstract middleware can be mapped to an actual middleware. The methodology has been analyzed both theoretically and practically with the actual application on a wireless sensor network.
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