Microsoft teams on Web services spec

The software giant, along with BEA Systems and Tibco, releases a specification to handle the communication of events in Web services applications.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
3 min read
Microsoft, BEA Systems and Tibco Software on Wednesday published a specification designed to communicate events between Web services.

The specification, called Web Services Eventing, is intended to simplify the development of applications that rely on events to trigger an action.

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For example, a business application might rely on a product inventory being replenished (the event) before it generates a shipping label and an invoice (the action). So, for instance, tools built around WS-Eventing would make it easier for developers to construct a Web service that sends out an e-mail alert once a stock reaches a certain price.

Once the technology is built into products, developers will be able to subscribe to a given event, automate a response and set conditions on the interaction, according to the specification's authors.

The specification is written so that it could be used in a wide range of devices and scenarios, including complex business applications, according to a statement from the companies.

The WS-Eventing specification uses Web services techniques based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) to re-create many of the "publish and subscribe" capabilities of messaging middleware products from companies such as Tibco and IBM. Web services attempt to bridge proprietary software from many manufacturers, in order to offer a standard way to link distributed systems.

The companies said they plan to submit the WS-Eventing specification to an industry standards body for consideration. But they did not provide a time frame for the submission or disclose which organization they would apply to.

With the technology, a Tibco system could send notifications to an application written using Microsoft's .Net system, noted Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at Web services research firm ZapThink.

The WS-Eventing specification was designed to work with other Web services standards such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and with proposed specifications, including WS-Reliable Messaging, which Microsoft, IBM, Tibco and BEA published last year.

IBM, however, chose not to participate in the creation of the WS-Eventing specification and does not intend to incorporate it into its product line. Big Blue's exclusion from the WS-Eventing development process is notable because IBM and Microsoft have collaborated on several important Web services specifications and have vowed to ensure that standards provide the interoperability they are designed for.

But in this case, IBM decided to stick with its own technology, said Karla Norsworthy, the director of dynamic e-business technology at the tech giant. She said she remained hopeful that IBM's own standards work would dovetail with those of Microsoft, Tibco and BEA.

"As it turns out, our priorities are not always the same across the whole industry," Norsworthy said.

IBM's plan is to ensure that a Web services-based event mechanism works closely with other standards under development, including grid technologies and the Web Services Distributed Management specification, Norsworthy said. Also, IBM wants to make sure XML-based standards work with the company's messaging-oriented middleware, which has similar event publish and subscribe capabilities, she noted.

ZapThink's Schmelzer said it's not clear whether IBM's lack of participation will create incompatibilities between its products and those from other companies.