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Web services: Seeking a common tongue

A standards organization releases a first draft of recommendations to help link together different Web services.

A Web services standards organization Tuesday issued a first draft of recommendations for linking systems using the emerging technology.

The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), a consortium of companies working to make emerging Web services products compatible, said it has published its Basic Profile Working Draft to its Web site.

Web services is a conception of how to build software so that companies with different computing systems can interact and conduct transactions. Most major software makers, and a growing number of large companies, have adopted Web services as a way to build business software. But for systems to interact on a large scale, developers need to agree on which specifications to follow and how to use them.

The draft spells out how existing standards, including the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.1, Web Services Description Language (WSDL) 1.1, Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) 2.0, Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 and XML Schema, should be used to develop interoperable Web services.

?There's a lot to like,? about the WS-I?s draft, said Stephen O?Grady, an analyst with Illuminata. ?Let's be honest though--a lot of people would pay attention to the profile, sound or not, simply because IBM and Microsoft are involved,? he said.

O?Grady said the draft should be useful to companies implementing newn Web services projects. ?Couple the clarification provided by the profile with the industry weight of the participants and all of a sudden you have a relevant and compelling standard.?

But companies that have already begun Web services development may need to re-examine their approach and decide whether they need to change existing code in order to comply with the draft. "Do they retrofit? How significant is the effort involved?," said O'Grady.

The WS-I was founded by IBM and Microsoft. Sun Microsystems, after lengthy debate, joined as a member last week. Other members include BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Intel.

The organization said the draft covers the following areas:

• Messaging, or the exchange of Web services protocol elements over a network,

• Description, or an explanation of messages associated with Web services including implementation details,

• Discovery, or how to advertise what a Web service can do,

• Security, or mechanisms that provide integrity, privacy, authentication and authorization to Web services.

The WS-I is seeking public comments on the draft. A final version is expected to be released early next year.