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W3C Releases SOAP Draft

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) yesterday released a public working draft of version 1.2 of the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Although it features several new enhancements to the SOAP 1.1 draft that preceded it, SOAP 1.2 is for the most part a maintenance release.

SOAP, which was originally created by Microsoft Corp. and submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in late 1999, has evolved into a cross-platform standard that has been embraced by most vendors as a means to facilitate the seamless exchange of XML information.

SOAP is seen as an important cog in an XML platform integration stack that includes not only XML itself, but also a new business-to-business services standard called Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) and another emerging standard called the Web Services Description Language (WSDL).

These technologies promise to link business partners, customers and possibly even competitors together over the Internet. In this paradigm, says Mike Schiff, vice president of e-business and business intelligence with analyst firm Current Analysis XML and SOAP work in tandem to enable companies to access the business-to-business services of other companies without regard for platform considerations. Meanwhile, Schiff continues, standards such as UDDI and WSDL provide core e-business description, location and registration services, as well.

Among other new features, SOAP 1.2 boasts compliance with W3C schema recommendations and support for a new namespace. In addition, the SOAP 1.2 public draft also provides recommendations for new error messages that can help developers to more easily build interoperable applications.

According to Current Analysis’ Schiff, the success of SOAP has been driven for the most part by Microsoft’s willingness to turn it over to standards bodies like the IETF. Schiff notes that the software giant has enjoyed other such successes in the not-too-distant past, as well.

“What’s important here is that once again it shows Microsoft’s ability to get out there and try to establish dominance by establishing industry accepted standards,” he comments. “They’ve done it with OLAP when they did it with Plato [the integrated OLAP engine that shipped with SQL Server 7.0], they’re trying to do it in data mining with the OLE DB for data mining standard.” Stephen Swoyer

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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