There’s no doubt that web services are hot. It’s impossible to pick up a trade publication without seeing at least half a dozen articles extolling the virtues of the web services revolution. Although still considered an immature technology, web services offer a great deal of promise in many spaces. Fully realized, the web services vision seeks to provide a global object repository where applications can be assembled from self-contained software components using relatively simple protocols and a ubiquitous transport mechanism—the Internet. In ColdFusion MX, web services are built using ColdFusion Components (CFCs).
Web services have many uses. Besides the potential to reduce the amount of code you have to write (by providing an existing web service that fits your needs), they also offer interesting possibilities for enterprise application integration, modernizing legacy applications, and providing access to data in new and interesting ways. As the idea of web services continues to evolve, so too will the ways in which they are used. For now, ColdFusion MX gives you the power to work with what’s available, while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to include new pieces of the web services pie as they mature.
This chapter starts with an overview of web services. It then covers consuming web services, producing web services, and web services security.