June 27, 2001

Programming Web Services with XML-RPC

Sebastopol, CA--"XML-RPC turns the Internet itself into a scripting environment, much as Visual Basic turned Windows into a scripting environment, or AppleScript turned the Macintosh OS into one," says Dave Winer, CEO of UserLand Software, and the lead designer of XML-RPC. "It makes our worlds come together, makes the bigger world smaller and more approachable. And it's inclusive, no one need be left out of the XML-RPC revolution."

The beauty of XML-RPC is in its ease of use. Web services are often easier to build with XML-RPC than with the more-trumpeted SOAP, the rival protocol that does more but also demands much more. The just-released book, Programming Web Services with XML-RPC (St. Laurent, Johnston & Dumbill, O'Reilly & Assoc., US $34.95) introduces the simple but powerful capabilities of one of the earliest protocols built to connect programs with XML, now in the midst of a resurgence largely driven by developers' frustrations with SOAP. "XML-RPC is a simple and easy technology for no-fuss web services," explains coauthor and creator of the PHP XML-RPC code, Edd Dumbill, "For simple applications, you don't need all the machinery the big vendors are pushing. It's amazing how far XML-RPC will take you."

XML-RPC lets developers connect programs running on different computers--with a minimum of fuss. Built on XML and the ubiquitous HTTP protocol, XML-RPC wraps procedure calls in XML and establishes simple pathways that programs can use to call functions: Java programs can talk to Perl, which can talk to Python and ASP and so on, and developers can provide access to procedure calls without even needing to know what language is on the other end.

XML-RPC is stable, with 34 implementations on a wide variety of platforms. While it does less than the similar SOAP, it also has far fewer interoperability problems and its capabilities and limitations are much better understood.

This new book supplies the details of both the XML-RPC specification and XML-RPC implementations. Developers can get started quickly developing distributed applications in Java, Perl, Python, ASP, or PHP, and also have the information they need for low-level debugging. Developers who want to build their own XML-RPC implementations in other environments will be able to use the detailed explanations of XML-RPC as a foundation for their own work.

Unlike most current writing on web services, Programming Web Services with XML-RPC explores both the capabilities and limitations of XML- RPC with a minimum of hype. Developers will be able to take the code explained by this book and do real work with it immediately, rather than having to think about architectures while waiting for vendors to get their interoperability sorted out.

Online Resources:

Programming Web Services with XML-RPC
By Simon St. Laurent, Joe Johnston & Edd Dumbill
June 2001
0-596-00119-3, 300 pages $34.95 (US)

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