Web services, also known as application services, describe the standardized integration of Web-based applications enabling communication between businesses and their clients. This communication is encoded and disseminated using certain core specifications.
XMLs (Extensible Markup Languages) format the service request, usually in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), creating intelligible documents for the World Wide Web. SOAPs (Standard Object Access Protocol) establish the basic framework for transferring data. WDSLs (Web Services Description Language), which is an XML-formatted description of possible communication endpoints that can exchange messages.
WDSL is required for mainstream object (or service) oriented languages such as JAVA and .NET because it allows for more user-friendly, automated communication between clients and service providers. This is the technical definition for the most important technological revolution of the 21st century. The socio-economic impact of web services has redefined human communication and commerce.
This article will discuss the history and current uses of web services as they work in conjunction with the trend toward service-oriented architecture (SOA). From this context, we will discuss upcoming web services trends for 2007. The top ones include growing RSS mainstream impact and structured data. 2007 will also see increased interest in browser-based applications.
Web services were developed to bring the marketplace into the virtual sphere, thereby allowing everyday economic (and social) transactions to be completed using the immediacy of the Internet. The term was coined by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 2000.
Efforts to standardize communication between businesses over a network first became a reality in 1975 and were known as electronic data interchange (EDI). Since then, technology has developed with the goal of creating a standardized business logic and communicating service requests over a network and across applications. Some of these standardizations included CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture), designed and sold by UNIX and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) from Microsoft.
However, the Web, which was mainstream by 1994, had, by 1997 made HTTP the standard business protocol. XML provided a platform independent description language that facilitated communication between applications. By 1998, the World Wide Web Consortium announced that XML 1.0 was ready for public use. In 1999, SOAP became the standard protocol for service requests and messaging in XML. It was developed by Microsoft, but IBM became one of its first vendors in 2000. Soon after, WDSL was developed as a programmatic language to set up possible methods for connecting to the Web.
UDDI (Universal Description Discovery and Integration) was developed as a business registry, sort of like a yellow pages, where businesses could list their web services and discover others that might be useful to their organization. By 2000, major IT vendors were developing and aggressively marketing web services. These vendors included Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.
Web services can be characterized as having developed in three distinct stages. The first is the batch stage where repetitive clerical tasks and other back-office processing were automated. The next phase is Online Transaction Processing (OLTP), which automates the front-office where the client interacts with the service provider. All front-office processing could access the same online database, increasing the consistency within an organization and therefore, providing better service.
The final stage is our contemporary one, the e-stage or Web stage. In this stage, the development of middleware has provided a layer of programming that allows applications to communicate across hardware and networks.
Web services have had a powerful impact on IT architecture and its primary goal has been the integration of Web-based applications. It has provided a low-cost integration model. The software is downloadable and sometimes free. Clients aren’t shackled to one vendor. And, because of their ability to integrate databases and application platforms, they require very little customization. Rather, they work according to open standards and protocols.
Web services enable and are part of the trend toward SOAs (service-oriented architecture) by providing greater interoperability, since web service specifications (such as use of SOAP and XML) are understood between diverse applications. Like SOAs, web services architecture is more flexible than previous attempts at integration because it is organized according to services that can be performed across applications through a network like the Web. Web services continue expanding and dominating as more organizations move their applications to the Web or want to access lucrative e-marketplaces.
Web services trend in 2007 reflect the continuation of trends from 2006. For example, the popularity of Web 2.0 technologies continues in 2007. Web 2.0 technologies refer to “the second generation” of the World Wide Web where it transforms from a collection of websites to a platform serving applications directly to users.
It describes the innovation in grassroots methods for users to communicate and collaborate through, for example, online communities, social network applications (like MySpace) blogs and wikis. However, in 2007 IT will grapple with security issues in Web 2.0 by introducing guidelines and security procedures.
Another trend in web services for 2007 will include RSS impact on mainstream web use and an emphasis on structured data. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and helps increase traffic to websites. It also delivers and retrieves information quickly through multiple feeds to quickly publish and update digital content. In 2007, RSS will be integrated into Microsoft’s Vista OS, YahooMail, and Google Base.
In 2007, more applications will become ‘webified’ or made to function on the Internet using a browser. A remotely accessible ‘webtop’ or virtual desktop known as WebOS will replace traditional desktops. Some examples of these products include Goowy, DesktopTwo, Glide Effortless, and YouOS.