Web services are almost like normal a web page. The difference is that they are formatted to make it very easy for a program to pull data from the page, to the point of probably not using any HTML. They generally also are more reliable as to the consistency of the format, may use a different formal process to define the content such soap or raw xml, and there is often also a descriptor document that formally defines the structure for the data.
A web service is something that a website chooses to offer to those who wish to read, update and/or delete data from your website. You might call it a "backdoor" to your data. Instead of presenting the data as part of a webpage it is provided in a pre-determined way where some of the more popular are XML and JSON. There are several ways to communicate with a webservice, some use SOAP, others have REST'ful web services, etc.
SOAP is known as a transport-independent messaging protocol. SOAP is based on transferring XML data as SOAP Messages. Each message has something which is known as an XML document. Only the structure of the XML document follows a specific pattern, but not the content. The best part of Web services and SOAP is that its all sent via HTTP, which is the standard web protocol.
A directory called UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) defines which software system should be contacted for which type of data. So when one software system needs one particular report/data, it would go to the UDDI and find out which other systems it can contact for receiving that data. Once the software system finds out which other systems it should contact, it would then contact that system using a special protocol called SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). The service provider system would first validate the data request by referring to the WSDL file, and then process the request and send the data under the SOAP protocol.
Web services are a key component in "mashups". Mashups are when information from many websites is automatically aggregated into a new and useful service. For example, there are sites that aggregate Google Maps with information about police reports to give you a graphical representation of crime in your area. Another type of mashup would be to take real stock data provided by another site and combine it with a fake trading application to create a stock-market "game".
^ Oya, Makoto (2008-09-02). "Autonomous Web Services Based on Dynamic Model Harmonization". In Oya, Makoto; Uda, Ryuya; Yasunobu, Chizuko (eds.). Towards Sustainable Society on Ubiquitous Networks: The 8th IFIP Conference on E-Business, E-Services, and E-Society (I3E 2008), September 24 – 26, 2008, Tokyo, Japan. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology. 286. Springer Science & Business Media (published 2008). p. 139. ISBN 9780387856902. Retrieved 2015-08-19.
Synchronous or Asynchronous functionality- Synchronicity refers to the binding of the client to the execution of the service. In synchronous operations, the client will actually wait for the web service to complete an operation. An example of this is probably a scenario wherein a database read and write operation are being performed. If data is read from one database and subsequently written to another, then the operations have to be done in a sequential manner. Asynchronous operations allow a client to invoke a service and then execute other functions in parallel. This is one of the common and probably the most preferred techniques for ensuring that other services are not stopped when a particular operation is being carried out.
Now we discussed in the previous topic about WSDL and how it contains information on what the Web service actually does. But how can a client application locate a WSDL file to understand the various operations offered by a web service? So UDDI is the answer to this and provides a repository on which WSDL files can be hosted. So the client application will have complete access to the UDDI, which acts as a database containing all the WSDL files.
Interoperability amongst applications - Web services allow various applications to talk to each other and share data and services among themselves. All types of applications can talk to each other. So instead of writing specific code which can only be understood by specific applications, you can now write generic code that can be understood by all applications
The term "Web service" describes a standardized way of integrating Web-based applications using the XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI open standards over an Internet Protocol backbone. XML is the data format used to contain the data and provide metadata around it, SOAP is used to transfer the data, WSDL is used for describing the services available and UDDI lists what services are available.
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