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W3C defines Web services

The Web's leading standards group issues documents on the architecture of Web services and launches an unprecedented effort to standardize lingo for the technology.

The Web's leading standards group on Thursday issued a trio of documents on the architecture of Web services and launched an unprecedented effort to standardize Web services lingo.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) put out its first working draft of the Web Services Architecture document and the fourth of Web Services Architecture Requirements. Web services allow developers to build software so that companies with different computing systems can interact and conduct transactions.

The architecture draft is a blueprint of what Web services consist of and how they interact with each other. The document attempts to define the relationships between a system requesting a service and a service provider, and how available services advertise themselves and are "discovered."

The requirements draft establishes what topics the architecture draft must cover.

In addition, the consortium published the first working draft of the Web Services Glossary with the goal of standardizing the growing lingo surrounding Web services.

So far, the glossary draft lays down guidelines for the use of Web services jargon, urging members to keep careful notes on emerging definitions and to refrain from using contested terms.

The glossary so far is divided into a number of terminological categories: architectural and general, choreography definitions, roles, service properties, definitions specific to Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), security- and privacy-related terms, and management terms.

The draft defines terms both common and unfamiliar. The definition in progress for "choreography," for example, is "the specification of the ordering of messages from one node's perspective or a collection of nodes."

"End user" is defined as "a natural person who makes use of resources for application purposes."

"They're very early, very rough," said Dave Hollander, co-chair of the Web services architecture working group, chief technology officer of Contivo, and an early designer of XML (Extensible Markup Language). "But I think they've taken on a very ambitious goal, and we're making progress against it."

Hollander called the glossary draft "tremendously challenging." While other efforts to standardize terminology are under way at the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative, and some work has been done to create a more general glossary, the new draft marks the first time such an effort has entered the formal technical report status and process.

The W3C has spent much of the year pushing its Web services agenda, spurred in part by industry criticisms that the consortium was taking a hands-off approach to the trend. Already this year the W3C has published a slew of drafts specifically having to do with Web services.

The W3C next week conducts its twice-yearly meeting in Boston, where the consortium's advisory committee will take up the question of whether or not to establish a new working group devoted to Web services choreography.