Web Services

April 13, 2012

The Transition

The bursting of the dot-com bubble in the fall of 2001 marked a turning point for the web. Many people concluded that the web was over-hyped, when in fact bubbles and consequent shakeouts appear to be a common feature of all technological revolutions. Shakeouts typically mark the point at which an ascendant technology is ready to take its place at center stage. The pretenders are given the bum’s rush, the real success stories show their strength, and there begins to be an understanding of what separates one from the other. (1)

“Advance technologies, the disappearance of boundaries between national markets, and the altered expectations of customers who now have more choices than ever before have combined to make goals, methods, and basic organizing principles of classic organizations obsolete.”(2)

The advent of Web Services has provided the breaking of such boundaries. We see the business model moving to application services, which replace the previous paradigm of licensed software tied to singe devices. One of the defining characteristics of the Internet era software is that it is delivered as a service, not a product. Platforms are created uses Web 2.0 design standards or guidelines. Databases are the new software base, accessed by web services and available to many users and enterprises. Examples are databases developed for Google Maps, Goggle Gmail, Amazon, MapQuest, and eBay

What are Web services

The term Web services describes a standardized way of integrating Web-based applications using the XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI open standards over an Internet protocol backbone. XML is used to tag the data, SOAP is used to transfer the data, WSDL is used for describing the services available and UDDI is used for listing what services are available. Used primarily as a means for businesses to communicate with each other and with clients, Web services allow organizations to communicate data without intimate knowledge of each other’s IT systems behind the firewall.

Unlike traditional client/server models, such as a Web server/Web page system, Web services do not provide the user with a GUI. Web services instead share business logic, data and processes through a programmatic interface across a network. Developers can add the Web service to a GUI (such as a Web page or an executable program) to offer specific functionality to users.

Web services allow different applications from different sources to communicate with each other without time-consuming custom coding, and because all communication is in XML, Web services are not tied to any one operating system or programming language. For example, Java can talk with Perl; Windows applications can talk with UNIX applications. Web services do not require the use of browsers or HTML. Web services are sometimes called application services. (3)

Web services architecture.

A Web service is a method of communication between two electronic devices over the web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the defines a "Web service" as "a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network". It has an interface described in a machine-processable format (specifically Web Services Description Language, known by the acronym WSDL). Other systems interact with the Web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP messages, typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization in conjunction with other Web-related standards."

The W3C also states, "We can identify two major classes of Web services, REST-compliant Web services, in which the primary purpose of the service is to manipulate XML representations of Web resources using a uniform set of "stateless" operations; and arbitrary Web services, in which the service may expose an arbitrary set of operations."(4)

Web services refer to a set of programming standards used to make different types of software talk to each other over the Internet, without human intervention.
Web services share three types of computer programming: Extensible Markup Language (XML), Standard Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and Web Services Definition Language (WSDL). XML is sort of the Esperanto of Web services. SOAP is sort of a virtual envelope for computer code that acts like an introductory letter, saying what’s inside and where it should go. And WSDL is the nifty little code that allows different types of software talk to directly each other. That’s the real promised land for Web services — software interacting without humans getting in the way.(3)

XML also has dozens of subsets that address issues specific to different industries such as banking, retailing, and even the computer industry itself. (3)

Every significant Internet application to date has been backed by a specialized database: Google’s web crawl, Yahoo!’s directory (and web crawl), Amazon’s database of products, eBay’s database of products and sellers, MapQuest’s map databases, Napster’s distributed song database. "SQL is the new HTML." Database management is a core competency of Web 2.0 companies, so much so that we have sometimes referred to these applications as "infoware" rather than merely software. (1)

The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world—everything and everyone in the world casts an “information shadow,” an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mind-bending implications. (5)

In our discussion we began with the description of Web Services, then considered what fostered the new era changes, then mentioned that Web 2.0 standards help expands a new collective platform of services which is the ever evolving web of tomorrow.

By: Franklin G. Brown

April 11, 2012

Resources:

(1) Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software

http://oreilly.com/lpt/a/6228; by Tim O’Reilly, 09/30/2005

(2) Reengineering the Corporation; Michael Hammer and James Champy

Harper, C/R 2001,2003

(3) Webopedia; Web services

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Web_Services.html

(4) From Wikipedia; Web service

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_service

(5) Web Squared:Web 2.0 Five Years On; By Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle; Oct. 2009

http://assets.en.oreilly.com/1/event/28/web2009_websquared-whitepaper.pdf

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4 Responses to “Web Services”

  1. Dustin Corey said

    Thanks for your comments on Web Services. I use them everyday at work, and you seem to be right on track with the blog.
    Thanks!

  2. Jason Cromes said

    The miscellaneous technologies that make up web services don’t exactly carry much of a “cool” factor. In my experience, they’re not necessarily very efficient either.

    But, when implemented properly, it can make a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff work – and work reliably.

  3. Blane McCarthy said

    Well done. Good presentation of topic. Helped me understand some of the complexities of Web Services.

  4. Dhinakaran Gurusamy said

    Very good post with lot of information. Main advantage I like most with web service is platform independent. Client applications that invoke web services can be written using any technology.

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