Cape Clear offers WSDL Editor

Cape Clear Software Inc. this week will serve up a graphical WSDL (Web Services Description Language) Editor designed to simplify and encourage development of Web services applications.

A core standard around Web services, WSDL provides a standard way to describe what a service does, in terms of its functionality, specifications, inputs, outputs, and accessibility methods. The WSDL Editor, which will be available for free download, is focused on helping developers design the WSDL for a particular Web service up front – before they do any coding of the application itself, according to officials at Dublin, Ireland-based Cape Clear.

“It’s the top-down approach to development, where you are thinking about your interfaces before you code them,” said John Maughan, business manager for CapeStudio, which is Cape Clear’s flagship Web services development environment.

Maughan said this top-down tack has several advantages over a “bottom-up” approach of coding first and then creating WSDL, among them: the separation of design over development and implementation; interoperability across development frameworks such as J2EE and .Net; and the ability for Web services consumers and producers to work in parallel and for corresponding developers to use different languages.

Likening the tool to a WYSIWYG HTML editor for building Web pages, Maughan said the WSDL Editor is best used for development projects that start from scratch or for those that centre on building a Web service based on an existing XML schema, such as SWIFT or RosettaNet. In cases where a developer plans to expose existing code as a Web service, the better choice for creating WSDL is a “generator” that automatically spits out WSDL code around the application, he added.

Cape Clear’s approach speaks to current enthusiasm around model-driven application development, according to Tyler McDaniel, director of application strategies at Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass.

“It’s like drawing a picture of what you want to do and describing the actions to take and moving one layer down to figure out how to behave,” McDaniel said. “The [model-driven] technique is taking on [a stronger] hold as applications and components become more complex.”

One potential downside in designing first exists in designing a highly complex Web service, creating WSDL with the editor, and then finding that the coding required to execute the model is far too complicated, McDaniel cautioned.

Cape Clear officials said the WSDL Editor is also an attempt to encourage Web services development in general.

“The ISV community is quite large for us, and the WSDL Editor is just one bulb in our string, just one piece,” Maughan said. “But we are trying to create awareness in the developer community.”