7 June 2002 Influential industry body the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally released a set of draft web services standards, intended to ensure that key features of emerging web services architectures remain open.
Despite a barrage of hype, organisations looking to implement web services are perplexed by conflicting, often vendor-specific standards surrounding the technology. W3C’s draft standards documents are therefore an important first step in ensuring web services stay vendor-neutral.
Drafts include the web services description usage scenarios document, intended to outline how web services will operate in ‘real-life’ situations. Its release follows on from the launch of two related standards in recent weeks.
The three standards documents relate to the way in which the web services description language (WSDL) ought to work. WSDL is a cornerstone of web services. XML-based, it describes the service that a business offers and provides a way to access those services.
“In order to promote interoperability and extensibility among these [web services] applications, as well as to allow them to be combined in order to perform more complex operations, a standard reference architecture is needed,” says the W3C.
The standards should help to protect users who want to implement web services, but fear that different vendors could produce slightly incompatible WSDL implementations, limiting the value of their investments.
The proposals have been on the W3C drawing board for some time, but the W3C rebuffed criticisms that it had been slow to release the standards. “Reaching consensus within the industry and the rest of the web community takes time,” Philippe LeHegaret, a member of the web services description working group told technology newswire CNet.