May 10 2001

Web Services

Published by at 12:00 am under Technology   

There has been a lot of buzz recently about "Web Services". A short examination shows that essentially a web services is an RPC (remote procedure call), generally across the internet, using SOAP/XML over HTTP.

RPCs are nothing new – so why all the excitement? Here are some reasons:

  • Web services work over the internet, through firewalls. Getting other RPC technologied to do this can be challenging.
  • Web services carry "WSDL" service descriptions, which will make it possible for software development tools to greatly automate the process of using them.
  • Web services are truly language-neutral; many other technologies carry baggage that belies their origin in one primary language.
  • Web services are text-based; the protocol is human readable and hence much more debuggable than (for example) IIOP, DCOM, RMI, etc.

Borland has made it near-trivial to expose functionality as a web service, or call web service functionity in Delphi 6. With just a few clicks the needed client or server side "stub" code is automatically generated, allowing you to use a web services as easily as any local function/procedure.

Many publicly accessible web services are listed at http://www.xmethods.net/

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