A web service is a collection of open protocols and standards used for exchanging data between applications or systems. Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various platforms can use web services to exchange data over computer networks like the Internet in a manner similar to inter-process communication on a single computer. This interoperability (e.g., between Java and Python, or Windows and Linux applications) is due to the use of open standards.

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A web service is any piece of software that makes itself available over the internet and uses a standardized XML messaging system. XML is used to encode all communications to a web service. For example, a client invokes a web service by sending an XML message, then waits for a corresponding XML response. As all communication is in XML, web services are not tied to any one operating system or programming language—Java can talk with Perl; Windows applications can talk with Unix applications.
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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.


A Web service involves a service provider and a service requester (client). Because Web services feature language transparency, it doesn’t matter whether the underlying system that provides the service is written in Java while the client is written in Perl, Python or Ruby. For example, through Web services a Windows server can interact with a Linux server or serve an application to computer desktops, laptops or smart phones and other mobile devices over the World Wide Web.
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- The message parameter in the WSDL definition is used to define the different data elements for each operation performed by the web service. So in the example above, we have 2 messages which can be exchanged between the web service and the client application, one is the "TutorialRequest", and the other is the "TutorialResponse" operation. The TutorialRequest contains an element called "TutorialID" which is of the type string. Similarly, the TutorialResponse operation contains an element called "TutorialName" which is also a type string.
In practice, a Web service commonly provides an object-oriented Web-based interface to a database server, utilized for example by another Web server, or by a mobile app, that provides a user interface to the end-user. Many organizations that provide data in formatted HTML pages will also provide that data on their server as XML or JSON, often through a Web service to allow syndication, for example, Wikipedia's Export. Another application offered to the end-user may be a mashup, where a Web server consumes several Web services at different machines and compiles the content into one user interface.
In practice, a Web service commonly provides an object-oriented Web-based interface to a database server, utilized for example by another Web server, or by a mobile app, that provides a user interface to the end-user. Many organizations that provide data in formatted HTML pages will also provide that data on their server as XML or JSON, often through a Web service to allow syndication, for example, Wikipedia's Export. Another application offered to the end-user may be a mashup, where a Web server consumes several Web services at different machines and compiles the content into one user interface.
Secondly, the client application needs to know what the web service actually does, so that it can invoke the right web service. This is done with the help of the WSDL, known as the Web services description language. The WSDL file is again an XML-based file which basically tells the client application what the web service does. By using the WSDL document, the client application would be able to understand where the web service is located and how it can be utilized.
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Web services architecture: the service provider sends a WSDL file to UDDI. The service requester contacts UDDI to find out who is the provider for the data it needs, and then it contacts the service provider using the SOAP protocol. The service provider validates the service request and sends structured data in an XML file, using the SOAP protocol. This XML file would be validated again by the service requester using an XSD file.

Secondly, the client application needs to know what the web service actually does, so that it can invoke the right web service. This is done with the help of the WSDL, known as the Web services description language. The WSDL file is again an XML-based file which basically tells the client application what the web service does. By using the WSDL document, the client application would be able to understand where the web service is located and how it can be utilized.
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.
Web services architecture: the service provider sends a WSDL file to UDDI. The service requester contacts UDDI to find out who is the provider for the data it needs, and then it contacts the service provider using the SOAP protocol. The service provider validates the service request and sends structured data in an XML file, using the SOAP protocol. This XML file would be validated again by the service requester using an XSD file.
A web service is a collection of open protocols and standards used for exchanging data between applications or systems. Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various platforms can use web services to exchange data over computer networks like the Internet in a manner similar to inter-process communication on a single computer. This interoperability (e.g., between Java and Python, or Windows and Linux applications) is due to the use of open standards.
Web services are a type of internet software that use standardized messaging protocols and are made available from an application service provider’s web server for use by a client or other web-based programs. Web services can range from major services such as storage management or customer relationship management (CRM) down to much more limited services such as the furnishing of a stock quote or the checking of bids for an auction item. The term is sometimes also referred to as application services.
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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.
Sorry Jezelll, had to throw a downvote. This is not what I would consider 'plain english' :( I don't have a problem with the intent of your definition, but using words like 'operation', 'remote server', 'invoked' and 'specification' makes it hard for beginners to understand. See Mitchel Sellers answer as an example of 'plain english'. – Dhaust Jun 30 '09 at 23:53
^ 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. 

A web service is any piece of software that makes itself available over the internet and uses a standardized XML messaging system. XML is used to encode all communications to a web service. For example, a client invokes a web service by sending an XML message, then waits for a corresponding XML response. As all communication is in XML, web services are not tied to any one operating system or programming language—Java can talk with Perl; Windows applications can talk with Unix applications.
^ Compare: Oya 2008, "Under the current Web Services, […] stakeholder systems must follow the predefined rules for a particular business service including those about business protocols to send/receive messages and about system operation. […] More flexible mechanism is desired where freely built and autonomously running systems can exchange business messages without pre-agreed strict rules. We call it Autonomous Web Services (AWS) and proposed the framework called Dynamic Model Harmonization (DMH) with its algorithm, which dynamically adjusts different business process models between systems […]."[4]
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.

Functional and non-functional testing of Web services is done with the help of WSDL parsing. Regression testing is performed by identifying the changes made to upgrade software. Web service regression testing needs can be categorized in three different ways, namely, changes in WSDL, changes in the code, and selective re-testing of operations. We can capture the above three needs in three intermediate forms of Subset WSDL,[7] namely, Difference WSDL (DWSDL), Unit WSDL (UWSDL), and Reduced WSDL (RWSDL), respectively. These three Subset WSDLs are then combined to form Combined WSDL (CWSDL) that is further used for regression testing of the Web service. This will help in Automated Web Service Change Management (AWSCM),[10] by performing the selection of the relevant test cases to construct a reduced test suite from the old test suite. [11]


- The message parameter in the WSDL definition is used to define the different data elements for each operation performed by the web service. So in the example above, we have 2 messages which can be exchanged between the web service and the client application, one is the "TutorialRequest", and the other is the "TutorialResponse" operation. The TutorialRequest contains an element called "TutorialID" which is of the type string. Similarly, the TutorialResponse operation contains an element called "TutorialName" which is also a type string.
A web service is a collection of open protocols and standards used for exchanging data between applications or systems. Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various platforms can use web services to exchange data over computer networks like the Internet in a manner similar to inter-process communication on a single computer. This interoperability (e.g., between Java and Python, or Windows and Linux applications) is due to the use of open standards.
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