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Weiqi Gao

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Nickname: weiqigao
Registered: Jun, 2003

Weiqi Gao is a Java programmer.
Scott Davis: Real World Web Services Posted: Jan 12, 2007 9:37 PM
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It was St. Louis JUG night last night. The new year brought us Scott Davis from the No Fluff Just Stuff symposium tour. And the bigger than usual audience (about 45) were treated to an hour and a half presentation on Real World Web Services.

Our sincere thanks to Jay Zimmerman and the NFJS tour. The NFJS 2007 tour will start up again in March, and St. Louis will play host to this excellent tour on the third weekend in March (March 16–18). A free pass to the symposium as well as a copy of the NFJS book were raffled off yesterday.

After discussing the meaning of various TLAs such as SOA using Wikipedia as a guide, Scott presented the fundamentals of several popular ways of making and using web services.

Scott emphasized the importance of the language/vendor/platform neutrality as the most important characteristics of web services. He defined web services as "Make a request on port 80, get XML back. Oh, wait, ... but you get the idea." He also described the current popularity of web services as a "perfect storm" of ideas.

He then went on to explain in detail some of the specific technologies:

  • SOAP
  • REST
  • JSON

JSON? JSON is the JavaScript Object Notation. It started out as an alternative of XML as a data interchange format when the destination of the data is a browser. However JSON parsers are available in many languages now.

Scott mentioned that Yahoo! is JSON enabling most of their web services.

In a talk like this where I've heard some of the things before while other things are new to me, I tend to focus my attention to the new things. Here's some of the things that got my attention:

  • I need to get and read Small Pieces, Loosely Joined by David Weinberger
  • I need to get and read Loosely Coupled: The Missing Pieces of Web Services by Doug Kaye
  • I need to get on top of this Atom and Atom Publishing Protocol thing. GData is based on it and it's more than RSS.
  • ROME works with RSS and Atom.
  • SOAP is on the decline. Google deprecated theirs.
  • UDDI is all but dead.
  • There are popular REST. And there are pure REST. The Servlet API gives you REST.
  • Apache HttpClient is all you need to access REST web services.
  • Use a proxy on the server side to access web services on other servers. It can be done in five lines of JSP.

The audience members were pretty engaged last night. And there were some sharp questions, such as "All this Web 2.0 stuff is nicer than the Web 1.0 pages. But we can already do this stuff in Swing. Why deal with a horrible language like JavaScript?"

To which the answer is GWT—The Google Web Toolkit. (Scott had to miss a GWT talk by David Geary at the Boulder JUG to fly to St. Louis.) Other higher level JavaScript tool kits as well as DWR were mentioned. Someone also mentioned that Adobe is developing a technology that will let you create first-class Flex (or was it Flash, I don't remember) applications independent of the browser.

The slides of Scott's talk is available here.

Another theme that crawled into the talk is Groovy. Maybe it's because we just had a Grails talk by Jeff Brown last month. Maybe it's because Scott is the force behind Maybe it's because Groovy just had a 1.0 release and the NFJS (and its parent organization) sponsored the final push. Somehow the "2007 is going to be a break out year for Groovy" idea took root in my brain.

We'll see.

Off the talk, here's some of the things we chatted about:

  • Scott worked on a product that had 100,000 lines of Groovy code, and they are very happy with the language.
  • Many people are taking notes of JSON at this moment. I joked that JSON is going to gain a set of WS-JSON-* specifications.

I got to meet Scott Delap, currently the Java editor for InfoQ and also a fellow St. Louisian. And I didn't get a chance to say "InfoQ rocks" to him. Well, there is always next time.

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