Web Services – The Foundation

April 20, 2012

Web Services

April 20, 2012

Web Services – The Foundation

After selecting “Web Services” as my Blog Assignment in the EGR 644 – Business Process Modeling Course at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I first thought it would be about what services the World Wide Web consists of. When I searched for this subject on the Internet, Wikipedia mentions that “A Web service is a method of communication between two electronic devices over the web (internet). – The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) defines a ‘Web service" as "a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network’.” In regards to the Internet, Wikipedia stated “The history of the Internet began with the development of computers in the 1950s. This began with point-to-point communication between mainframe computers and terminals, expanded to point-to-point connections between computers and then early research into packet switching.” In this respect, communication between computers has been evolving for approximately sixty years.

Looking deeper on the internet regarding Web Services, w3schools.com described how Web Services works by stating “The basic Web services platform is XML (Extensible Markup Language) + HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). XML provides a language which can be used between different platforms and programming languages and still express complex messages and functions. The HTTP protocol is the most used Internet protocol.” W3schools.com also mentioned the platforms of Web Services as: “SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), and WSDL (Web Services Description Language).

To elaborate on the platforms of Web Services, SOAP is “an XML-based protocol to let applications exchange information over HTTP” according to www.w3schools.com. Simply put, SOAP is a method or protocol for accessing a Web Service. SOAP is a format to send messages, it is a communication protocol designed to communicate via or through the Internet, it allows ways to get around firewalls, and it is language and platform independent. SOAP is a standard by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and is based on XML.

Another Web Service platform is WSDL or Web Services Description Language, which is also based on XML and a standard by W3C as well. WSDL is utilized to describe and locate Web Services. Lastly, UDDI is a platform where companies can search and register for Web services like a directory or where information is stored. UDDI communicates through SOAP, it is described by WSDL, and is “built into the Microsoft.NET platform” according to w3schools.com. One important benefit of UDDI according to w3schools.com is “Before UDDI, there was no Internet standard for businesses to reach their customers and partners with information about their products and services. Nor was there a method of how to integrate into each other’s systems and processes.”

One of the most amazing things about Web service is that “any application can have a Web Service component” and “Web Services can be created regardless of programming language”. Therefore, mainframe, mid-range, and client server languages can be used for Web services, and communicate with each other.

W3schools.com was very informative, and gave the following description for HTML. “HTML is a language for describing web pages. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML is not a programming language, it is a markup language. A markup language is a set of markup tags. HTML uses markup tags to describe web pages.” Also, it stated that a HTML document is a Web Page which describes web pages, contains HTML tags, plain text, and “The purpose of a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox) is to read HTML documents and display them as web pages. The browser does not display the HTML tags, but uses the tags to interpret the content of the page.”

This information is a foundation of Web Services. There are new developments in technology continuously improving how computers communicate with each other over the internet and into the Cloud. According to Webservices.com “XML is well suited and widely used for data transfer. For example, SOAP messaging in Web services is based on XML (well, technically speaking SOAP 1.2 is based on XML Infoset). With SOAP messaging becoming more widespread as adoption grows within organisations, the challenge of how to send non-text based data along with your message is becoming more important. Many organisations now have “image and workflow” type applications for example, where a jpeg (say a scanned insurance claim) needs to be sent between applications.”

I’m sure it will be quite interesting to view Web Services next year just to see what developments or quantum leaps this technology brings forth.

Christopher Robinson

Works Cited:

Wikipedia. “Web Service”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_service

Wikipedia. “History of the Internet”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet

W3Scools.com “Web services” http://www.w3schools.com/webservices/wsintro.asp

Webservices.org http://webservices.org/index.php/weblog/website_editor/becoming_attached_to_soap


3 Responses to “Web Services – The Foundation”

  1. Chris,

    Very informative and simple breakdown of webservices and other technologies that are used with-in its’ framework. It is interesting to discuss the past and present of computer technology and how it evolved since the 50’s. Machine-to-machine will continue to get easier and soon human-to-machine as well. Thanks for the lesson.

    Andre’ Swain

  2. Cedric Matthews said

    Like you I wonder where Web Services will be next year. Web technology is a long way from where it started. As you mentioned the platform independence is great. Let’s keep our eyes and ears open for where the web is going. Thank you for the information.

  3. Frank Brown said

    Chris, I appreciate the additional references on Web Services which was also my topic. You may want also to look at the topic of RSS another service that made blogging popular. Also look at an article by Tim O’Riley: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, http://oreilly.com/lpt/a/6228; by Tim O’Reilly, 09/30/2005

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