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Are Web Services Real? Part II

22 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: Aug 17, 2006 11:27 AM by Jesse Williamson

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Leo Lipelis

Posts: 111
Nickname: aeoo
Registered: Apr, 2006

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 21, 2006 4:08 PM
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I agree with Bruce.

XML, text, and other common data formats are already language independent. SOAP is just useless bloat. What's wrong with getting a comma separated file from a remote site? If you need something that expresses a hierarchical layout, just use XML. XML is language independent and parsing XML using available libraries is very easy and pleasant for the features that you get with XML "for free".

In the simplest case -- where you just need to get a single value from the site -- it makes sense to send that value as plain text, without all the crazy envelopes and wrappers and other fluff.

Alan Green

Posts: 104
Nickname: alang
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 21, 2006 6:18 PM
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Web Services has made it over a hump that CORBA did not. The basic Web Services standards - SOAP and WSDL - are widely supported in cheap and open platforms. There has been a significant takeup behind corporate firewalls, mostly in dot-NET applications and systems that interact with dot-NET applications.

Using just SOAP and WSDL, it's possible to package and call services in way that interoperates across both languages and platforms. As for the rest of the Web Services stack - UDDI, BPEL, WS-Security, etc - Charles "Fishbowl" Miller captured my feelings well with this post:

Leo Lipelis

Posts: 111
Nickname: aeoo
Registered: Apr, 2006

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 21, 2006 6:48 PM
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EJB pre v3 got widely deployed too, so what? Big woop-de-doo.

That didn't stop our team from removing most EJBs.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 22, 2006 6:34 AM
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> I've been suspicious of SOA etc. from the beginning. Such
> things depend on client coders trusting the black boxes.
> We all (mostly) believe that a simple test of
> f foo.add(2,3) will confirm our trust. Otherwise, the
> meaning of object/function/method is something we have to
> agree on. We can only do that if we can see the gears.

That's basically the point I'm trying to make, yes. There's nothing wrong with SOA other than that it's not really novel or new. I work with a lot of EDI people and it's really opened my eyes. They've been using language independent data formats for quite a few decades.

But back to your/my point. A web service by itself isn't really self-documenting. Self-describing (the best feature of Web Serivces) yes but not self-documenting. As you have alluded to, for a web service to work, there needs to be a published specification that describes how to use it.

Basically what I am saying is that this should happen way ahead of development. The idea that a web service spec will be created as a side-effect of some Java code is naive to say the least. And if you have a spec to fufill, you don't want to be trying to figure out how to create or fufill it by formulating the proper incantation of Java code. In short the feature becomes marginalized to (very) occasionally useful if not entirely useless.

Carlos Perez

Posts: 153
Nickname: ceperez
Registered: Jan, 2003

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 26, 2006 7:04 AM
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"Technical standards digress in proportion to technological progress"


Troy Kelley

Posts: 1
Nickname: tkelley
Registered: Jun, 2006

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Jun 29, 2006 7:46 PM
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I was learning about web services a couple years ago and blogged on some of the standards madness. I did't have anything really profound to say, but there's some pointers to some interesting articles - a bit dated, but good reads.


Roger Voss

Posts: 27
Nickname: rogerv
Registered: Aug, 2005

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Aug 3, 2006 12:40 AM
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My gut intuition toward the likes of CORBA and Web services was that there is a smell about them (despite all the hype/pressure that attempts to compel one to pick them up). Thanks Bruce for putting to words what my gut has been telling me all along.

As to all you dudes chiming in with how great RPC with automatic data marshaling is, etc., etc. - I go with just JMS messaging everywhere throughout my distributed applications. I gave up on remoted interfaces and all manner of synchronous RPC about five years ago and these days regard both as anti-patterns. Here's my laundry list of pro async messaging bullets (a crude JMS manifesto):

* The JMS APIs are pretty darn simple and are consistent regardless of whether programming to them in Java, C# .NET, or C/C++ (very heterogeneous)

* The JMS APIs are very stable - code written to them will not be obsoleted by a radically revised spec, best practice, or some such. Such JMS code will run in stable manner for year after year after year...

* JMS has superior asynchronous semantics versus inferior synchronous behavior of RPC or remoted interfaces (distributed objects). See my JMS related writings:

* JMS enables/promotes easy separation of concerns regarding handling exceptions generated from the underlying i/o transport vs any of the business logic of the remoted interaction. Don't have to spread that remote i/o error handling crap around throughout an application that does a lot of distributed interaction, but instead keep it centralized, while hardening capabilities like auto-reconnect and transparent failover.

* Binding distributed nodes via remoted interfaces (distributed objects) leads to tight coupling or brittleness. This makes evolution of distributed systems more difficult to manage (in contrast, is easier to evolve XML document schemas in a way that does not break existing code - ultimately the distributed data/event-notification model is superior to the distribute object model)

* Of ultra importance in enterprise IT settings, XML documents as message payloads enable easy participation for business analyst (in contrast, object interfaces and RPC function calls are for geeky programmers only - and hence greatly diminishes their value for devising enterprise distributed systems). The thing about messaging based systems is that they're so innately simple that everybody soon begins to grok them. Not so some uber geek monstrosity built off of of a technology like JINI.

After all these many years and several generations of attempts at distributing object via remoted interfaces, is high time that people finally face up to the unwelcome reality - the distributed object remoted interface constitutes an anti-pattern. (Is probably the most insidious one ever because so many have kept after it for so long while still being unable to perfect it to work reasonably in actual practice.)

Jesse Williamson

Posts: 9
Nickname: chardan
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Are Web Services Real? Part II Posted: Aug 17, 2006 11:27 AM
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I am very fond of ZeroC (and Michi Henning's) Ice toolkit.

I think that they've basically taken the things in CORBA
that were very, very good and produced a complete toolkit
that is not arcane and applies those ideas well.

Web services might make sense for use between companies,
where it may be hard to share detailed understanding of
a software system, but it completely rubs me the wrong
way as application middleware-- which, unfortunately,
is what it is all too often being used for.

Anyway, I would like to encourage folks to have a peek
at Ice and reinvestigate some CORBA-ish ideas as an
"alternative"(irony!) way of implementing SOA.

_Jesse Williamson ;-};

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