The SOAP Opera Progresses - Helping XML to Rule the World
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released the first public working
drafts of SOAP Version 1.2 and the XML Protocol Abstract Model. By formally
publishing these working drafts at an early stage of the design work,
W3C hopes to ensure that the public can follow the development of these
proposed standards, and contribute to a final result that is widely accepted
to the W3C, data transport is as central to modern computing as is data
storage and display in the networked, decentralized, and distributed environment
that is the Web (TEC agrees with this opinion strongly). "As XML emerges
as the preferred format for data processing, the challenge is for both
the sender and the receiver to agree on a transfer protocol at the application
level or layer - whether the transfer is to occur between software programs,
machines, or organizations".
XML Protocol Working Group has the goal of developing technologies which
allow two or more peers to communicate in a distributed environment, using
XML as its encapsulation language. These solutions allow a layered architecture
on top of an extensible and simple messaging format, which is expected
to provide robustness, simplicity, reusability and interoperability.
Version 1.2 provides a specific framework for XML-based messaging systems,
which includes specifying a message envelope format and a method for data
serialization, and fulfills requirements spelled out in the charter, including
the integration of core XML Technologies. It also provides a refined processing
model, which reduces ambiguities created by various interpretations of
the SOAP/1.1 Specification. SOAP Version 1.2 includes strong recommendations
for explicit error messages for mandatory extensions, giving developers
better information, and helping them to develop better applications.
of the Working Group include industry and technology leaders such as:
Active Data Exchange; Akamai Technologies; Allaire; AOL/Netscape; AT&T;
BEA Systems, Bowstreet Software, Canon; Commerce One, Compaq Computer
Corporation; Daimler-Chrysler Research and Technology; DataChannel; Data
Research Associates; DevelopMentor; Engenia Software; Epicentric; Ericsson;
Fujitsu Limited; Group 8760; Hewlett-Packard Corporation; IBM; IDOOX s.r.o.;
Informix Software; Intel Corporation; Interwoven; IONA Technologies; Jamcracker;
Library of Congress; Lotus Development Corporation; Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co., Ltd.; Microsoft Corporation; MITRE Corporation; Oracle;
Philips Research; Propel; Rogue Wave; SAP AG; Software AG; Sun Microsystems;
TIBCO Software Inc., Unisys; Vitria Technology, Inc; webMethods; and Xerox.
was originally a proprietary Microsoft protocol, which was billed as "the
replacement for DCOM" (another proprietary Microsoft protocol). After
review, and impressed by its simplicity and support for XML, IBM and other
vendors signed on, and it is rapidly becoming the new de-facto standard
for data interchange using XML.
who don't add support for SOAP quickly (especially the 1.2 standard),
may be left in the dust by staying with proprietary standards such as
DCOM. It is likely that CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture),
from the Object Management Group (OMG), will continue to thrive, due to
its high level of industry acceptance and use. It is also likely that
groups like W3C and the OMG will build "bridges" to transfer information
from one architecture to another, such as was done with COM and CORBA,
but as we have often stated, "one standard is better than many".
Customers are advised to keep a close eye on the development of the SOAP
standard. It may be the best hope of a common integrated standard that
all vendors adhere to (of course the dreaded "proprietary extensions"
are inevitable). In this way, application integration can be greatly eased,
and the cost of implementing new solutions reduced.
addition, XML (which SOAP supports) is becoming the best way to transfer
data streams over the web. If SOAP lives up to its promise and creates
a way to eliminate the need for "DTD (Data Type Definition) dictionaries",
which define how "my stuff turns into your stuff", it will eventually
replace EDI, and conquer the Internet world.