Chapter 11. The Web and WS-*

THE WEB COMMUNITY HAS QUESTIONED THE WS-* PROTOCOL STACK (SOAP, WSDL, and friends) because of its perceived complexity. In this chapter, we’ll take a closer look at the WS-* stack, understand its capabilities, and discuss the reasons the web ecosystem of tools and protocols can provide equivalent, but often more elegant, solutions to many common enterprise and Internet computing problems.

Are Web Services Evil?

In a book about building web-based systems, it’s fitting to ask this fundamental question. Of course, the answer is not clear-cut. When SOAP-based Web Services became popular in 2000 they were a disruptive technology. The advent of Web Services changed the enterprise integration landscape utterly by using Internet protocols and XML to connect systems without proprietary middleware, private APIs, or integration specialists. It seems obvious now that open formats and protocols are good for interoperability, but back in 2000 this was a revelation.

Before Web Services, integration middleware had been dominated by uninteroperable technologies such as DCOM, RMI, and CORBA. Even where these technologies had been subjected to standardization, the standards were loose enough to allow integration products that were standards-based on paper yet proprietary in practice. Compounding this, the lack of commoditized and interoperable integration choices meant integration was the sole domain of specialist (costly!) developers.

Today integration is largely a ...

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