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.

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Web services allow different organizations or applications from multiple sources to communicate without the need to share sensitive data or IT infrastructure. All information is instead shared through a programmatic interface across a network. This interface can then be added to a GUI, like a web page, to deliver specific functionality to users. Due to this, web services are not specific to one programming language or operating system and do not require the use of browsers or HTML.
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.

A web service is a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network. It has an interface described in a machine-processable format (specifically WSDL). Other systems interact with the web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP-messages, typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization in conjunction with other web-related standards.
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.
Loosely Coupled – Loosely coupled means that the client and the web service are not bound to each other, which means that even if the web service changes over time, it should not change the way the client calls the web service. Adopting a loosely coupled architecture tends to make software systems more manageable and allows simpler integration between different systems.
"All the standard Web Services works using following components:" ... the problem with this answer is that it suggests that web services do or must operate within the SOAP/WSDL mechanism. This is inaccurate. Representational State Transfer (REST) is another very popular paradigm for implementing web services. Some major websites have deprecated their SOAP services in favor of REST web services. – scottb Jul 7 '15 at 15:50
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]
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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.
W3C Web Services may use SOAP over HTTP protocol, allowing less costly (more efficient) interactions over the Internet than via proprietary solutions like EDI/B2B. Besides SOAP over HTTP, Web services can also be implemented on other reliable transport mechanisms like FTP. In a 2002 document, the Web Services Architecture Working Group defined a Web services architecture, requiring a standardized implementation of a "Web service."
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