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The Foundations of Web Services: From Novice to Expert

A web service is a way to make applications inter-operate across different programming languages, platforms and operating systems in order to share the data quickly and efficiently. In this series of articles, I will take you through the basic to advanced concepts for this subject. We will work together on technical aspects of web services for building, deploying, finding and debugging web services.

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By: Harshul Shah
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May 22, 2007
  1. · The Foundations of Web Services: From Novice to Expert
  2. · Understanding web services
  3. · What are web services?
  4. · Web service capabilities

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The Foundations of Web Services: From Novice to Expert - What are web services?
(Page 3 of 4 )

Services which enable one machine to invoke some functionality or to retrieve some data from a remote machine are called web services.

Web services are lightweight, stateless, platform neutral and adhere to the standard techniques.

Web services can be programmed in two ways to meet with the basic requirements of  web service consumers and web service providers. Web service consumers invoke/seek data from the remote server. Web service providers provide the generalized functionality to fetch the data to consumers and are continuously waiting for a request.

Benefits of web services

Web services are much more beneficial than the past generation of distributed architectures. Here are a few of their benefits: 

  1. Web services provide great inter-operating capabilities. For example, web services created in Java can be consumed in .NET or vice versa.
  2. Web services support leveraging the services of remote applications to exchange data.
  3. Web services provide a platform-neutral/platform Independent Interface.
  4. Reduces the execution time and provides the reusability of the complex coding.
  5. Reduces the cost of the application.

Ideally web services are useful for encapsulating complex applications and business logic in a platform-independent interface so that other applications from different platforms can utilize the same functionality without much digging.

How does message exchange occur for web services?

Web services deliver information in the form of Request and Response messages.

These messages can be written in a standard language with a standard format. They traverse the network via any network transmission protocol.

The real internal technical issues about web services start now!

Basically, the messages used for web services are formatted in a standard format called SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). Keep in mind that this is a messaging format protocol and not the transmission protocol.

The message format implemented in SOAP is based upon XML. The use of XML as the basis for formatting the SOAP messages enables the messages to be understood by any system on any platform on the Internet. Thus, it is possible to transmit the SOAP message via HTTP, HTTPS, FTP or any other transmission protocol.

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