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Brandon Savage's Blog:
What Constitutes A Web Service?
July 16, 2009 @ 08:38:36

In ths new post to his blog Brandon Savage asks the question "what constitutes a web service" and explains some of the things that he sees as defining characteristics of them.

The explosion of the concept of "web services" has generated a debate over what "web services" actually are. An article by Raj Mishra tries to limit the concept of "web service" to a strict ten-point list, insisting that a web service have a WSDL and uses SOAP. While this is a perfectly fine sentiment (even the one endorsed by WC3), it certainly is a limiting description.

Brandon notes that his definition as to what constitutes a "web service" has broadened from the strict "SOAP and a WSDL" the W3C implies. Instead he suggests three points that would help make a better definition of a service:

  • Provides an endpoint or endpoints for the retrieval and/or addition of data through a standard format; and
  • Contains one or more documented method(s) for retrieving or adding that data; and
  • Allows access by users who are not operating from the same servers as the endpoint(s).
Notice the multiple "and" in there - his three criteria work together to define the service make for less ambiguity while still allowing for flexibility.

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