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Web services 'yellow pages' gains ground

A standards body puts its stamp of approval on an update to the UDDI specification, which acts as a registry and locator service for applications on the Web and on corporate networks.

A standards body on Tuesday put its stamp of approval on a technology for finding Web services across a network.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) said that an update to the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) specification has been ratified as a standard.

With the ratification of UDDI version 2.0, software companies and individual developers can build software based on the standard and know that their applications will work together.

UDDI acts a registry and locator service for Web services, which are software applications written according to standards that allow them to interact over the Web or a corporate network. The applications access UDDI directories automatically, in the background, to find the information they need to complete transactions.

Although UDDI was introduced nearly three years ago, adoption has been slow compared with that of other Web services standards, such as the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL).

Originally, UDDI registries were envisioned as a locator service on the Internet, allowing companies to tap into a broad network of third-party Web services applications. In practice, the directories have been used within corporate networks as a way to store information on available Web services, according to analysts.

Version 2 of UDDI introduces the ability to attach a classification to a Web services directory. This allows a company to identify the contents of UDDI directory to include information such as the company's industry, product categories or geographical information, according to OASIS.

Members of group said that the UDDI technical committee is well on its way to completing the standardization of a much-anticipated version 3 of the specification. Version 3 introduces the ability to have several interconnected registries and improves the security of UDDI directories with digital signatures.

Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink, said that version 3 of UDDI could hasten the adoption of so-called services-oriented architectures, a new way of designing software applications.

In a service-oriented architecture, Web services can share information regardless of the operating system or programming model used to build them. In this way, Web services are "loosely coupled" and link to each other only when required, making a UDDI-like directory more valuable.

"As companies realize that there are significant...benefits in moving to a service-oriented architecture, they will realize that UDDI is no longer an option, but a necessity," Schmelzer said.

OASIS did not give an exact date for the expected standardization of version 3.