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perspectives on open-source and web services

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tarak Modi wants you to KISS your web services

Tarak Modi is becoming a favorite of mine. he seems a very astute and pragmatic observer of the WS landscape. his most recent blog entry is a good follow up to his previous one, in which he talked about the confusion around the WS-* specifications. in this one, he links to an article he wrote that talks about the reasons for the explosion in standards/specifications.

I agree 100% with his analysis. reading it also encouraged me to pay more attention to WS-I as its profiles could evolve into the guiding standards for the 2nd generation WS specifications, like W3C is for the 1st generation.

I know Tarak would agree that although the WS-* standards are confusing, but are, in fact, manageable. I assume he would also agree that these standards are, in fact, required for some distributed systems. and I do agree with him that keeping Web Services applications as simple as possible is the best way to avoid the confusion and complexity of WS-*. But I would also caution that ignoring a WS-* standard that performs a function you need could mean trouble down the road if/when a large number of other systems are built around the standard, and you'll have to play catch-up to be able to work with them.


At 1/20/2005 7:20 AM, Blogger Tarak Modi said...

Luke, thanks for your positive comments.

I definitely did not intend to promote the notion that most WS-* specifications are to be ignored. That would be irresponsible of me. And you are correct that a lot of the specifications can be used for creating robust distributed systems around Web Services, which is why they were created. That is also reason #1 in my article "KISS your Web Services". But at the same time not all distributed systems require all of the WS-* specifications either. For example, I just rolled off a large project that makes heavy use of Web Services in a distributed environment using only basic SOAP and WSDL. Of course a lot of design went into the effort (this is key). Security and identity info was conveyed thru SOAP headers. I could have used WS-Security, but the complexity was not justified for various reasons. Finally, until a core set of second generation Web Services specifications are univerally accepted/ratified, it's hard to create systems that will support all possible candidates. So use what you need now and leave the future where it should be... in the future.

At 1/20/2005 10:54 AM, Blogger luke said...

Thanks for coming by, Tarak!

The only web services I've done have just used basic SOAP and WSDL as well, though I haven't done any mission-critical web services projects yet. I think one of the best reasons for NOT going with WS-Security or another WS-* standard is indeed the fact that none of the 2nd-generation WS specifications are universally accepted.

I hope in the near future I will be needing some kind of security or other feature so I can seriously look at the standards in comparison to a real-world project need. I'll have a much better perspective as to the pros and cons of the standard, and a better way to look at how WS-I is trying to fix the confusion.

Thanks again for stopping by.


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