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Learning REST · I was talking to a colleague who has to become savvy in a hurry about modern Web applications and he asked “How do I learn about REST?” Good question. I thought of a couple of suggestions, then asked Twitter and got some more. Here they are ...
The Shambling WS-Undead · I’ll try to play this straight. It seems that a posse of industry titans (IBM, Oracle, CA, and EMC) want a W3C working group to standardize WS-Transfer, WS-ResourceTransfer, WS-Enumeration and WS-MetadataExchange. Because, as they say, “There is still some work to be done”, and “Accessing data about a resource through Web services is an area of the Web services architecture that has yet to be fully realized.” I guess that if you really do want to implement HTTP on top of the SOAP stack on top of HTTP, these are clearly the Right Vendors For The Job. There is, however, real danger in this move, as outlined by Mark Nottingham in The WS-Empire Strikes Back... feebly.
RESTful JavaOne · I only managed to take in a few talks here and there, but the ones I did catch sure had some first-rate REST preaching. To the extent that there’s a surprising trend at this year’s J1, I’d say it’s REST-is-in, “Big Web Services” (see below) are out ...
WS-Enterprise, 2008 · I was talking to a very large financial-sector company in the middle of America in the middle of last week, and the cognitive dissonance around this whole WS-thing is palpable ...
On Web Service Definition · There’s a flurry of discussion about whether or not, in the world of REST, you need some sort of formal specification for the services you’re offering. My conclusion: yes, but in a very application-specific way ...
WS-dämmerung · Snell: Now that I’m working for IBM’s WebAhead group, building and supporting applications that are being used by tens of thousands of my fellow IBMers, I haven’t come across a single use case where WS-* would be a suitable fit. Obasanjo: The only times I encounter someone with good things to say about WS-* is if it is their job to pimp these technologies or they have already “invested” in WS-* and want to defend that investment. Vinoski: Finally, I realized that WS-* was simply not worth it to any customer or to me. I remember the days when it was basically just Mark Baker and me shouting “The WS-King has no WS-clothes and there are WS-bleeding-sores on his WS-butt!” The easy advice for the CIOs and CTOs of the world is “Just don’t buy that crap”. The more difficult advice is “In future, carefully consider the motives and world-views of those who were trying to convince you to buy that crap.” It’s OK, CIOs and CTOs don’t read ongoing. Anyhow, we’re still a minority; I get email every day from people advertising products and services and courses and advice on “SOA Governance”. Motives and world-views, remember?
Tab Sweep — Tech · August is supposed to be the slow time of year. Not! Is there ever a lot of interesting stuff out there. Today we have WS-funnies, OOXML Purdah, Web names, Internet Registry structures, and Ruby metaprogramming craziness ...
Tech Tab Sweep · We’re all over the map today, from general theories of software development to low-level optimized bit-banging. Well, all over the software map, I guess ...
REST News · I’d been going to do a REST news round-up, but Dave Johnson beat me to it. He calls it “Atom and REST” and yes, I’ve noticed a pattern where you get a handful or more of RESTafarians in a room, virtual or real, and Atom keeps bubbling up. Not just the protocol, but the data format too. Oops, Dave missed one: Pete Lacey ...
WCF-REST · It’s like this: The WS-* project’s attempt to re-invent RPC and pretend that you can successfully take an object-model view of networked applications looks increasingly fanciful, in the general case. On the other hand, Microsoft’s Merry Men slaved away on Indigo, worked around the horrors of XSD and WSDL, built some pretty good Visual Studio tooling, and shipped DCOM, the Next Generation WCF; now it’s the way Windows wants to be talked to over the net. Which is why the Java ecosystem has things like WSIT, built into JAX-WS; you may not like Windows but everyone has to talk to it ...
The London Illustrated News · I spent the week in London. Fun was had, pictures were taken, I learned things. Herewith illustrated notes on transportation, energy, finance technology, businesslike drinking, women’s clothing, Groovy, excellent lamb-chop curry, and a round red anomaly ...
WS-* in the Springtime, O Joy · This happens over and over. New WS-* spec submission, check. Insanely huge charter locking down the conclusion and ensuring a rubber-stamp outcome, check. Loads of dependencies on WS-standards, WS-drafts, WS-submissions, and other WS-handwaving, check. Resolute obliviousness to other technologies that address the same problem, check. [Update: Hostilities break out in the comments. Read ’em and see what you think.] ...
Tech Tab Sweep · I break with my no-underlying-theme theme and do an all-technology tab sweep; in fact, almost all XML ...
Udell and Vinoski · I almost never listen to podcasts. I don’t commute, and just sitting in front of my computer, I tend to get distracted. But I did manage to hang in through all but the trailing couple of minutes of Jon Udell’s A conversation with Steve Vinoski about services, the enterprise, and the web. Since I’m called out by name, I think I should probably respond ...
SOA, REST, Java · What I usually do in this space is grumble and whine about SOA & SOAP and so on. Today, let’s start with a laugh, instead. But actually, there’s news; the Java tribe has decided to take REST seriously, see JSR 311 and, for some more pointers, Eduardo’s write-up. I haven’t had time to do a deep-dive, but I’m reassured by the presence of Marc Hadley A.K.A. the WADL guy; and it looks that there will be other real experts at the table. On the other hand, Elliotte Rusty Harold emits an extended snarl. (Sample: “I hope we can derail this completely...”) Hey Elliotte, I guess making friends and influencing people is for losers, right? The proof of the pudding, obviously, is in the eating, but the fact that this discussion is happening has to be a good thing ...
SOA and WCF · More dark clouds gather; storm signals include the general trashing of the whole WS-* stack by Gartner’s Nick Gall, the continuing broadsides (latest here) from Pete Lacey, and Give It a REST, a solid piece of argument from Larry O’Brien. But I think the real take-away, while a little subtler than “WS-* is broken”, is becoming pretty obvious ...
WS-Tilkov · Stefan Tilkov is emerging as one of our best thinkers on the whole WS-Sanity front. I recommend a (slightly-old) InfoQ video interview, a manifesto on his own site called 10 Principles of SOA, and (again at InfoQ) an interview with Pete (“S for Simple”) Lacey. Hmm, seems like I’m pointing to InfoQ a lot lately.
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S for Simple · I feel guilty sometimes about the lull in my WS-Rants, because the forces of WS-Complexity and WS-Darkness are out there evangelizing tirelessly. But today I feel better, because there are powerful WS-dialogues out there speaking truth to confusion. Duncan Cragg has published Getting Data and Setting Data, which he says are the first two of a nine-part (!) series entitled The REST Dialogues. Quite sound and insightful, I think. But laughter is divine and the divine trumps the rational; in that spirit I recommend Pete Lacey’s The S stands for Simple, which is in a class by itself. [Update: DHH piles on.] [Update: Nelson Minar too.] [Update: and Sam Ruby]. [Update: Lacey’s follow-up, They can’t hear you, is a must-read.]
Erroneous Ministerial One · Herewith my occasional romp through the built-up browser tabs. Item (serious): In The ‘Next’ Java, Joe Gregorio says some Really Smart Things about languages in general and Java in articular. Item (serious): At Business Week, Stephen Baker’s Writing for an audience of one says something genuinely new (hard, these days) about blogging. Item (interesting): My new Samsung is a pretty cool phone, but there are a few irritants. It turns out that someone called RedIpS has fixed them. I just bought a flashing cable on EBay; I wonder if I’m going to be breaking any laws? Item (not serious): SOA Facts. Item (puzzling): Some guy named Tim Bray seems to be in trouble in China; this article provided the title above. I hope Mr. Bray gets out OK.
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How We Learn · Here’s the bald truth: the state of the art in Information Technology is being advanced, first, in releases of open-source technology (which speak louder than words) and, insofar as words go, primarily in online site-to-site conversations. You can watch it happen. Michi Henning hauled our body of knowledge one small but important step up the endless mountainside with his The Rise and Fall of CORBA, in the always-excellent ACM Queue. Bruce Eckel, in Are Web Services Real? Part II, focuses on the obvious process parallels between CORBA and WS-* (reliable laugh line: “WS-* is becoming CORBA, only with angle brackets to make it slower”). Finally, Steve Loughran’s On Corba, DCOM, ICE, and distributed objects in general really goes deep, wondering whether distributed objects are an inherently broken idea. His closing words: “REST handles it best by freezing the set of verbs to a low number, only allowing one way links, but at a price, the price of no easy mapping between REST resources and native classes, no two-way links and (currently) not very easy APIs. The question is, when will the Enterpriseys notice that this is the only thing that has been shown to work.” I don’t think the “Enterprisey” epithet has been a very useful addition to our discourse; but aside from that, well, yeah.
Bold Strides · I’m glad to see that the Web 2.0 community is coming to understand the benefits of Service-Oriented Architectures. I refer to SOA integration with Flickr and del.icio.us, which demonstrates an outstandingly mature approach.
The End of SOA · I did an interview and a podcast [Update: here] at that Rails conference and the question came up in both, and in the hallway talk too: “What do you think we should do about SOA?” Which weirdly, nobody had asked me before, and I could find only one answer: “Don’t do anything. ‘SOA’ may have meant something once but it’s just vendor bullshit now.” Looking back, what happened was, certain software architects were uncomfortable with the framing that goes with the words “Web Services”; maybe because people think anything with “Web” in the name should be simple and lightweight and easy to set up. Thus SOA, which is so much more Enterprisey. Me, I want to go the other way. The crucial point is that Web-like things should be simple and lightweight and easy to set up; so I think the “Web” part of “Web Services” is more important than the “Services” part. SOA isn’t the future, Web style is.
Important, I Think · I’m genuinely paranoid about banging my own drum and shouting “Listen to me!” because I know how often I’ve been wrong about things, and how much of the future is determined by luck and raw random chance. That said, if the lessons I’ve learned over the years mean anything, there’s a conversation going on right now that’s real important. Here are three starting points: Going Down To The Crossroads from Don Box, Styles: Beyond WS and REST from me, and Spending the $100 from Don. They aren’t the whole conversation, but they reflect it well and have pointers to most of the rest. Right now, a lot of people think that Web-flavored frameworks are the future of heterogeneous-network applications, which is to say almost all applications; and that the WS-mountain is really a WS-molehill; and that we need to fix up the tooling for developers. Depending how much pull Don has, Microsoft might be first off the mark; fair enough. But I really think this deserves attention. In an interesting sidelight, Rob Sayre (in comments here) and Dare Obasanjo have agreed with Sam Ruby that if you’re building an actual application using Web-flavor APIs, well, by golly, you ought to play by the Web-Architecture rules. Glad you guys think so.
Just Contractors · I think David Heinemeier Hansson’s graphic is worth a link; the title kind of puzzled me, but the comments have a pointer to an explanation.
Too Much Fun · That’s what Dave Orchard is having; check out WS-SopranosDesperateHousewivesKwisatchHaderach. Also out there in the “that much fun must be illegal” territory is David Isenberg, he’s building a whole franchise around “Fat Pipe. Always On. Get Out of the Way!” credo; there are now bumper stickers and T-shirts. He sent me some; thanks, David. (But see David Weinberger’s worry).
Styles: Beyond WS and REST · There’s been a recent mini-flurry around REST and alleged subsets such as “Lo-REST” and “Hi-REST”. Initiator: Don Box. Responses: Obasanjo, Jonnay, Glazkov, Megginson, and Tomayko. My thanks to all of them for keeping this stuff in the front of my mind. I’m not sure that “Web Services” and “REST” are useful names for the interesting network-application styles. But I’m pretty sure I know what those styles are ...
WS-Fritz-Lang · You know, I think most people would agree that I’ve written quite enough about this stuff. But this one particular WS-piñata swung right into my face, and I simply can’t resist a whack at it. In this particular case, I even have some of the political back-story. But first, check out Evolving Web services standards for managing system resources and have a peek at this remarkable PDF white paper: Toward Converging Web Service Standards for Resources, Events, and Management (both released March 15 by HP, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft) ...
WS-Crossroads · Check out Web Services at a Crossroads, by Daryl Plummer, who’s group VP and chief fellow at Gartner. Yet another finding that when it comes to Web Services, you can choose between simple,reliable, standards-based infrastructure that’s here now and the sprawling, shifting WS-* technology that’s still under construction, mostly by IBM and Microsoft, both well-known champions of simplicity. Plummer’s piece is mostly right, but I’m going to ignore Tolstoy’s advice and pick some nits ...
WS-Angst · There’s been an interesting flurry of high-level WS-discussion, launched by Don Box in Pragmatics (it’s short, go read it, the long string of comments doesn’t add much). The discussion sloshed around the blogosphere; I’ll pick some highlights. Stefan Tilkov says Mu: “I do believe that on a very high level, the debate is utterly irrelevant.” I don’t. I just don’t believe that there’s a level high enough that large-scale basic infrastructure bets don’t matter. Chris Ferris offers conventional wisdom: WS-* is just fine, taking a little longer than we’d hoped, but you’re really gonna need this stuff. Patrick Logan pushes back: “I was shocked how little interoperability, not to mention functionality, has been accomplished in the WSDL and SOAP world over the last several years ... we decided to run a different experiment... address the same business problem but with just HTTP. Very soon we were spending all our time talking about business functionality and messages rather than infrastructure headaches.” Ooh. Dare Obasanjo weighs in twice: More on Pragmatism and Web Services, and especially Why WS-* interop sucks. I’ll leave the last word to Rob Sayre in No, It’s Over, I Really Mean It: “If you have Microsoft saying ‘well, the best approach is to make this elaborate infrastructure we’ve spent billions of dollars building out optional’, then the debate is over.” Me, I think the WS-stench of something WS-rotting from the WS-head down is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
WSbert · It’s been a couple of months since I’ve hit the WS-punching-bag, but one can hardly ignore it when WS-jargon creeps into the cynical geek’s holy of holies; that’s right, I’m talking about Dilbert. In other recent news, last week SDForum put on an Interoperability Workshop, nicely written up by Paul Krill and Eve Maler. There were some terrific sound-bites: “I understand what all this stuff is and it still makes my head spin”; “The vendors are always pursuing their own agenda” (I’m shocked, shocked); “You really do need to be a rocket scientist to use a lot of it”; and “The thing we have to be a little careful about is that we need abstractions that don’t assume that you can cover up complexity with tooling”. But you know what, maybe Dilbert really is more indicative; when you have startup company, you know you’re in trouble when Dilbert cartoons start showing up on cubicle walls. Let’s see, in this corner we have Gartner saying that if you’re not doing WS-strategic-synergies (as in WS-big-budget), you’re In The Wrong Quadrant. In the other corner, we have Dilbert. I know who I’d bet on.
The Aquarium · People have been asking for it since forever, and recent releases of Roller now have a group-blogging feature. I’ve always been skeptical of the idea, which redefines “blog” from being about an individual voice to being about a shared interest; because people are bigger and more interesting than their interests. But over the last couple of weeks, my attention has several times been drawn to pieces in The Aquarium, which is a group blog about GlassFish. While I’m not really an EE kinda guy, I can see how someone who cares about that stuff could find this kind of a resource useful. For example, check out this pointer to an over-elaborated but nonetheless useful article about doing REST in in JAX. Maybe “group blogs” have legs.
WS-Interop · We did a Web Services announcement Friday, and while I’m not on that team, I think it’s significant. Basically, it says that we’re implementing enough of WS-* to interoperate with Microsoft Indigo Windows Communications Foundation, and that the implementations will be Open Source. Let’s be blunt (and remember, I speak only for myself here): WS-* isn’t about standards. It’s about what Microsoft (there are partners, but it’s mostly Microsoft) chooses to implement while waving the WS-banner and retroactively shaking Standards Fairy Dust over the process. Which is OK, as far as it goes; I get the impression that Indigo WCF is actually some pretty neat software that will be useful to a lot of Microsoft customers, and Sun has a stake in the ground saying we’re going to interoperate with the Microsoft WS-stack. Do I think this stuff is going to Change The World? No. Do I think that this is the real future of Web Services? No. (I think the future looks like Amazon Web Services or the Atom Publishing Protocol or even recent arrivals like the Backpack API, even though Backpack could be done with the Atom Protocol). But I do think that WS-Microsoft-Interop is the right thing to do at the moment. Oh, and by the way; if you’re one of the many many people grinding away at one of the WS-inventions that hasn’t shown up already in this interop story, well, there may be grounds for worry.
WS-Stardate 2005.10 · “How’s the WS-* field strength, Mr. Spock?”
“Steady at 783; sub-optimal, but manageable.”
“My intuition tells me something’s wrong.”
“All right, I’ll run a deep scan, but...”
“Captain! I’m getting a weird reading from three specs in the Security sector; it looks like...” [A weird shaft of brilliant purple light stabs through the bridge, frying the red-shirted ensign where he sits.]
“Mr. Spock! What was that?”
“Checking, Captain; those WS-warbirds are SecureConversation, Trust, and SecurityPolicy. They’ve been there for years, but somehow they’re different... aaaah. They’re deploying an OASIS-TC standardization field!”
“But that’s a friendly tactic, Spock.”
“No, Captain, they’re modulating the field with a locked-down charter device; the TC has to just approve them the way they are.”
“That’s fiendish!”
“And extremely illogical, Captain.”
[Suddenly the bridge rocks and the lights flicker.] “Engineering! Scotty! What’s happening?”
“Cap’n, I dinna understand it, they’re growing!”
“How can that be... Spock?”
“He’s right, Captain, they’re using the superseded-spec maneuver.”
“Scotty, do we have the bandwidth?”
“I dunno Cap’n, SecureConversation’s been superseded from 17 to 31 pages, and Trust from 41 to 68.”
“My God, they’re growing like cancer. Scotty, I need more bandwidth!”
“We’re doin’ our best, Cap’n... Aaaaaaaaagh!
“Report, Scotty!”
“Cap’n, cap’n, it’s SecurityPolicy, curse it... lurking at 13 pages since 2002 without a peep, but there’s a supersede; it’s up to 90. Cap’n... she canna take any more. She’s gonna blow!

Check out Jon  · Jon Udell is an existence proof of the need for technology writers who are technically competent but don’t have a non-writing day job; in an ideal world this is how all tech journalists would be. First this great big honkin’ survey piece on Web Services; I’ve been feeling guilty about not covering that territory more, but now I don’t have to because Jon is. Summary: There is hope. Then, his excellent interview with Bill Gates, in which Gates is informal, informative and intelligent, as opposed to Ballmer’s party-line bloviation.
WS-Reality at RouteOne · Last week at Java One, Ashesh Badani, a Sun SOA marketing person, wanted to have lunch with me to talk about WS-*. He brought along T.N. Subramaniam, Director of Technology for RouteOne, a car-loan aggregator. (Sun loves RouteOne, they’re a reference customer not only for us but for SeeBeyond, which we’re in the process of acquiring). Anyhow, neither Ashesh nor Ashok Mollin, a Sun guy who’s been engaged at RouteOne, got a chance to say much, because T.N. and I hit it off and had a good time talking about Web Services. Which RouteOne are doing, big time and for big bucks and successfully. They are exactly the kind of people that those of us struggling in the WS-* morass ought to be looking to for lessons. This, I think, will be the first ever ongoing piece structured as an interview; with T.N.’s help, I’ve tried to reconstruct our conversation at lunch. I think some conclusions are obvious, but I’ll leave them for you to draw ...
WSD-Survey · Norm and I posting our NSDL and SMEX-D proposals seems to have unleashed a flood of energy in this space. I previously pointed to Dion Hinchcliffe’s survey work; well, Dion is really getting down to business with his Taking Stock of Web Services Description. He’s going to be taking a serious run at fourteen (!) different candidate languages, applying them to a real web service and doing real implementations. I don’t see anything to complain about in his approach. I’m subscribed, you betcha, and if you care about Web Services you should be too. Fortunately, Dion is braver than I and supports comments, so there may be some interesting dialogue there.
Raining on the Parade · I guess it’s good that Steve and Scott made nice, and there’s no doubt that when the customers tell you to interoperate, then you bloody well interoperate, so it was a good piece of work (see Pat Patterson’s take in a comment on his own blog). But this glue for linking to Microsoft’s WS-Federation is a second-rate solution at best. Among other reasons, WS-Federation is yet another WS-backroom spec that might change (or go away) any time the people in the backroom want it to; not something I’d advise betting on. If you have products from any two vendors that implement Liberty Alliance specs properly, well, they interoperate. Single sign-on? Yawn. Pretty well everybody is a member, oh except Microsoft. If the customers want single sign-on (and they do want single sign-on), Microsoft should bloody well join Liberty and implement the specs, then they’ll have interoperation with everyone, not just Sun.
The Web Service Description Space · I’ve been meaning to go back and update my earlier piece on replacing WSDL, but Dion Hinchcliffe has published a roundup of all known Web Service Description alternatives, with a picture even. Dion is clearly now the world’s leading authority on this field.
Replacing WSDL, Twice · Let’s make three assumptions: First, that Web Services are important. Second, that to make Web Services useful, you need some sort of declaration mechanism. Third, that WSDL and WSDL 2, despite being the work of really smart people, are so complex and abstract that they have unacceptably poor ease-of-use. What then? Naturally, the mind turns to a smaller, simpler successor, sacrificing generality and eschewing abstraction; in exactly the same way that XML was a successor for SGML. Well anyhow, that’s the direction my mind turned. So did Norm Walsh’s; his proposal for NSDL also includes a helpful explanation of why Web-Service description is important. My sketch is called SMEX-D. Interestingly, NSDL and SMEX-D, although both wave the banner of The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work, are wildly different; NSDL is the simplest way you could possibly declare an RPC-style function call with positional parameters. SMEX-D is the simplest possible way you could declare an exchange of XML messages. Which is more important? Are both necessary? I suspect that these days, the Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work would include a declaration that a particular message-exchange/function-call should be reliable, using HTTPLR or equivalent. Are there any other proposals or skunkworks floating around out there? Let me know and I’ll aggregate pointers. [Updated with more proposals, startling commentary from Megginson and Obasanjo, and an appeal to Sowa’s law]. ...
SMEX-D · SMEX stands for Simple Message Exchange, and SMEX-D for SMEX Descriptor, an XML language designed to provide simple descriptions of a wide range of Web-Service message exchanges, both REST-based and SOAP-based ...
WS in BW · A month or two ago, there was a piece about Web Services by Jim Kerstetter in Business Week, and it was pretty good but I disagreed with one or two of his premises, so I wrote to tell him so. He answered, saying “Want to write a viewpoint piece on the subject for us?” So I did, it’s online here.
SOA Top or Bottom? · John Crupi writes that SOA deployments should be top-down, “problem to architecture to solution”. He specifically says that wrapping existing technology deployments in a Web Services wrapper is a “perfect recipe for a SOA failure”. Hmm... these are strong claims, radical I think, and furthermore, quite new to me. And thus worth pointing to.
Web Services: Spring 2005 Roundup · The usual Web Services background rumble has been getting remarkably loud these past few weeks. [Why now? -Ed. Beats me. -T] I haven’t figured out where we’re going, but then nobody else has either. This fragment surveys the state of play with a traditional link-roundup, and concludes with a suggestion that those who care visit Japan in May. [Updated with a pointer to an analytical piece from Joshua Allen.] ...
Stop WSDM · Over at OASIS, they’re working on YAWSS (Yet Another Web-Services Spec) called WSDM. The committee decided they were done and asked for an OASIS-wide vote; the result was 67 yes, 7 no. Interestingly, the 7 “No” votes weren’t about the substance of WSDM, they were about the fact that it has dependencies on all sorts of other WS-bric-a-brac that isn’t finalized yet, including a W3C Submission and a bunch of other committee drafts. The committee pondered this and decided to go ahead and make it a standard anyhow. I tried to go and read WSDM and it made my head hurt, severely; it’s gnarly and huge and complicated and seems to depend on lots of other gnarly and huge and complicated things. So, anyone who wants to implement this is going to have to make a major investment, and since a lot of the relevant specs are unstable, you just know some part of that investment is going to get thrown on the trash-heap. Interoperability? Ha. Ha. Ha. This sucks. I don’t want to be an absolutist here; some organizations, like IETF, totally forbid this kind of thing while others, like ISO, allow them in a kind of controlled way. But in this particular case, what they’re trying to do is deeply wrong and the OASIS management needs to find a way to stomp on it if they want to retain any credibility. For other commentary, start here. [Disclosure: I don’t understand WSDM and I don’t even understand the problem it’s trying to solve and while Sun was one of the “No” voters, it was strictly on the dependencies issue, and I don’t know whether we, corporately, are as irritated as I am individually and I don’t know whether we, corporately, actually care about this technology and if we do, whether we like it or not.]
Another Loyal Oppositionist · I haven’t been banging my WS-Gadfly drum recently, but that’s OK, because James Governor is on the job.
Real World Web Services · This is an O’Reilly book by Will Iverson, whom I don’t know. Given my frequent public grumbling on the subject, I thought I should give it a serious look ...
UBL by the Numbers · Via Jon Bosak, a pointer to this XML 2004 presentation (PowerPoint, sigh), about the Danish Government’s deployment of a bunch of XML technologies including UBL. Check out slides 4 & 5: they estimate the annual savings achievable from invoicing in UBL at somewhere between €100M and €160M. I may be out of step with the crowd but it seems painfully obvious to me that UBL is going to be huge and I don’t understand why more technology vendors (including my employer) aren’t refocusing their e-business strategy around it.
Evolution in Action · Adam Bosworth doesn’t write very often. But when he does, you really want to read it.
Three Questions on XSD and WSDL · Last week at the Colorado Software Summit, during my keynote I asked three questions of the attendees, who were a few hundred mostly senior developers, mostly from the Java ecosystem. (I’ve tucked a picture in the body of this piece.) Do you use XML Schema? Pretty well every hand went up. Do you think you understand XML Schema? One hand went up. Do you like XML Schema? A scattering of hands, maybe 20%. I asked the same three questions about WSDL; similar pattern, not quite as universal exposure, a few more thought they understood it. Just reporting ...
WS-Pagecount · Herewith a brief report from the opposition benches in the WS-Parliament. My recent piece introducing the “loyal opposition” idea provoked quite a bit of feedback, some of which is worth highlighting. Also, those of us in the skeptics camp have been heard to mutter darkly about “thousands of pages of specifications” and I wondered whether those barbs were justified, so I had my computer count ’em. Read on for the answer. [Update: I may have miscounted.] [Again: pushback on the JSR analogy.][Again: Hey, they added some more!] ...
The Loyal WS-Opposition · In places that have Parliamentary systems, the majority party (or parties) form the Government, and the rest form the Opposition. In constitutional monarchies the jargon is “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.” The idea is, they Oppose the Government but are Loyal in that they promise not to lead a mob with pitchforks to string them up; and they stand ready to provide an alternative. When it comes to Web Services, that’s what I’d like to be: the loyal opposition ...
What Adam Said · A month or two ago, I got a call out of the blue from some guy I never heard at a recruiting shop saying “I’m looking for a reference on Adam Bosworth.” I’m afraid I gave the guy a hard time, first I took him for a prankster and then I ranted at him along the lines of “You’re talking about probably one of top twenty software people in the world, have you never heard of Quattro Pro and Microsoft Access and IE 4? What are you talking to me for?” To his credit, the guy was patient and explained that this was Google and Google is different. So I told him about my exposure to Adam over the years and all the things it’s painfully obvious that he’s good at, and I’m sure the other people they called did too, and now he’s at Google. But what I really wanted to say today is, go read his latest piece, he says in one paragraph what I’ve been raving about for months in the area of Web Services: “The really useful things turn out to be the simplest ones.” How many times do we have to re-learn this lesson? Anyhow, there’s more, and it’s all good.
WS-Sanity that Fits In Your Hand · Check out Nokia Web Services Framework for Devices — a Service-oriented Architecture. It’s a practical intro to how SOA might play in the mobile space, with some eminently sensible background work; there’s a section entitled What is a service-oriented architecture, and why is it good?. Anyone who doesn’t think that the center of gravity of networked computing, which means all computing, is moving toward the mobile space and isn’t reading Russell Beattie and probably should be. As I’ve said before, if you want to know the future of SOAs and Web Services, look at the people who are actually deploying them and see what they’re doing. Anything they’re not going to use, you can ignore for now.
From the Web · I was talking to Mark Hapner, a smart guy here at Sun who does heavy Java architecture, about WS-Sanity, and he had an angle that’s new to me. In recent decades, he points out, good new technologies have first appeared in rough-and-ready form on the Internet, then migrated into the enterprise. (I remember when query tracking first showed up on the FedEx site; that was ten years ago, and it instantly opened a few million eyes to a better new way to deliver data). But all the WS-* hullabaloo is trying to go the other way; it’s trying to model all the (necessary) complexities of current IT infrastructure and turn them into many thick layers of abstractions wrapped around a Webbish core. So, if you believed in history, where would you look for the future of “Web Services?” You’d look at the people who are doing them in a rough-and-ready fashion out there on the Net. The names that come to my mind are Amazon, Google, EBay, Salesforce.com, maybe SABRE. [Update: Via the Sabre Geek, a pointer to what they’re doing.] Whatever they’re doing, that’s Web Services or SOA or the Services Fabric or whatever you want to call it. Anything they don’t need, maybe it isn’t going to be real important.
SOA Talk · I’m listening to Steve Gillmor, Doc Searls, Jon Udell, Dana Gardner, and Dan Farber talk about SOA via “The Gillmor Gang” at ITConversations. Herewith some observations on the form and content ...
Gunfight at the WS Corral · As a student of WS-Geography and WS-Politics (and there’s a lot to learn), my eyebrows were first raised by a pointer to a warmish protest (I quote: “... the draft Oasis Web Services Reliability specification was savaged in a most unfortunate manner... We are also informed that the IBM assassination attempt will be posted on the Oasis web site which further adds insult to injury...”) concerning a presentation entitled Critical Comparison of WS-RM and WS-R, which is indeed posted on the Oasis site. However, to keep things fair, the site also has a pointer to the response from the WSRM TC. I totally have no opinion as to who’s right, or if the problem is a fruitful area for standardization work. But I wonder why, if there are differing ideas on how to solve this problem, and there is a standards organization at work, the differing ideas aren’t being hashed out in the standards organization. Clues may be found in the email thread beginning here. It’s tough for strangers to learn a new landscape when it’s ravaged by warring tribes.
UBL 1.0 · On May 1st, UBL 1.0 hit the streets; today, Jon Bosak is in Hong Kong launching the marketing push. UBL is a set of general-purpose XML-encoded business documents: orders, acknowledgments, packing slips, invoices, receipts. I’m not a UBL expert, but I have two good arguments that say it’s likely to be important and successful ...
WS-Sanity in Ireland · People have asked why, since I joined Sun, I’ve been going on about WS-this and WS-that. In part it’s just because I still care about all things XML. But mostly, it’s because in late 2003, before I came here, I had an eye-opening experience that changed how I think about Service-Oriented Architectures and Web Services. I think that the future is in plain sight, and that’s because it’s being built right now by the Government of Ireland, and it’s called reachservices ...
Sean++ · Sean McGrath speaks wisdom about Transactions and SOA. Anyone who’s trying to find their way through the WS-Confusion would do well to pay regular attention to Sean. Among other things, he does large SOA deployments for a living; we’re talking practice not theory.
Web Services Theory and Practice · I look at the confusing landscape where the “Web Services” flags fly, and I see some things that are proven good practice, and some other things that are mostly theory. I think we could all be saner about all this if were careful to distinguish between theory and practice ...
WS-* · Extracted from the valuable list at CBDI, and omitting those marked superseded, we find BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services), WS-Addressing, WS-AtomicTransaction, WS-BPEL (Web Services Business Process Execution Language), WS-CAF (Web Services Coordination Framework, including WS-CTX, WS-CF, and WS-TXM), WS-Choreography, WS-Coordination, WSDL (Web Service Description Language), WSDM (Web Services Distributed Management), WS-Eventing, WS-Federation (Web Services Federation Language), WSIL (WS Inspection Language), WS-Manageability, WS-Notification, WS-Policy, WS-Provisioning, WS Reliable Messaging, WS-ReliableMessaging (not the same as the previous), WS-RF (WS-Resource Framework), WSRP (WS Remote Portals), WS-Security, WS-SecureConversation, WS-SecurityPolicy (an addendum to WS-Security), WS Security Services, and WS-Trust. Hey, they missed WS-MetadataExchange, and now I see that we have WS-BaseFaults and WS-ServiceGroup as of yesterday. Is this the future? Is the emperor dressed?
Listen To Don · That Don Box, he’s a smart guy. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one worrying that the profoundly-good Web-Services idea is danger of being discredited by too much theory and not enough practice.
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A full disclosure of my professional interests is on the author page.