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WS-I releases interoperability road map

The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) has released a set of guidelines to ensure that key Web services specifications work together.

BOSTON -- The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) today released a set of guidelines to ensure that key Web services specifications work together. The group said that 25 software vendors have pledged support for Basic Profile 1.0.

The guideline, released at the XML Web Services One conference, covers SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0 and XML Schema.

"Starting today, every Web service developer and provider will have a common framework for implementing interoperable solutions, and buyers will have a common reference point for purchasing decisions," said Tom Glover, chairman of WS-I, in a statement. "WS-I has resolved more than 200 interoperability issues associated with using the core Web services specifications together."

One analyst said Basic Profile 1.0 is just as its name implies -- basic -- but that it is an important first step in building user confidence in Web services.

"It's a starting point," said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst for ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass. "It's not over by any means."

Compliance tools are next

In the fall, the WS-I plans to release Test Tools, a compliance tool that it said will allow users to see for themselves whether a vendor's Web services-enabled technology is truly interoperable with the core specifications.

Schmelzer said this release is the first major action taken by the vendor-backed WS-I, and it will be scrutinized carefully. "This is sort of their critical crossroads," he said. If developers find that the guidelines don't provide true specification interoperability, the WS-I's credibility will suffer.

Conversely, if a vendor claims that its product adheres to the guidelines and the Test Tools prove otherwise, that vendor will be the one to suffer user backlash.

Vendors are already lining up to pledge allegiance to Basic Profile 1.0. For example, Mindreef Inc. of Hollis, N.H., today released its own validation tool for WSDL. The company bills its SOAPscope 2.0 as the first WSDL interoperability checker that includes validation of WSDL against Basic Profile 1.0.

Gaps to be filled in later

The WS-I said there is one missing piece to Basic Profile 1.0 that will be filled in at a later date. The organization is currently developing interoperability guidelines for SOAP with Attachments. It is an important piece, said Schmelzer, who compared it to interoperability between e-mail client attachments. It would be unacceptable for users not to be able to read e-mail attachments from a client they do not use, and it is equally unacceptable for users to not have access to a full range of SOAP-based attachments, he said.

The next step after Web services specification interoperability is standards interoperability. Schmelzer said there has been considerable bickering among software vendors over the issue, but it is critical for the industry to agree on interoperability standards for messaging, security, reliability and management.

"There's more to interoperability than SOAP and WSDL," he said. "We're starting to touch on products."


Tip: Standards competition: A good thing?

Conferences: Web Services Decisions, Nov. 3-5, 2003

Educational resources: The WSDL Learning Guide

Best Web Links: SOAP

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