SOAP 1.2 gets recommendation from W3C

The World Wide Web consortium (W3C) announced earlier this week that it has given recommendation status to the latest version, 1.2, of the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) specification – a protocol used for exchanging structured information in distributed Web services environment.

A W3C recommendation is the equivalent of a Web standard, indicating that the W3C-developed specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability and has been reviewed by the W3C membership, the W3C said in a statement.

Toronto-based David Senf, senior analyst, e-business solutions at IDC Canada Ltd., says the W3C has essentially updated the processing model and has also made a number of changes to the header and body elements.

“This allows for better compression performance and interoperability with Web services messages,” he said.

One of the largest complaints around using SOAP and Web services standards, which are based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), is the massive performance hit that organizations take when they start moving over to XML, Senf explained.

“XML tags add a lot of extra weight to a file. You’re also adding in a lot more processing…and more computational power – that takes a lot of time,” Senf said. “What the 1.2 spec allows is to compress the data so it’s easier to transport over the wire and also provide for a better performance. This addresses some of the issues around the performance hit that organizations have been taking, who have actually wanted to leverage the interoperability of Web services.”

This enhanced interoperability capability – which allows organizations to not be confined to using either HTTP, SML serialization or even Simple Mail Translator Protocol (SMTP) – also permits organizations to define their own architecture around SOAP, Senf said.

Not only does this improve organizations’ abilities to gain interoperability of their applications, Senf said, but it also enhances their ability to leverage functionality from another company and allow their Web services to be interoperable.

Better error handling and internationalization, an upgraded processing model and alignment with the W3C Web architecture are other features of the revised specification.

W3C also announced that IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., SAP AG, and Sun Microsystems Inc., have all shown support for the specification.

Senf said IDC Canada is also looking forward to the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) 1.2 recommendation, expected in 2004, to further evolve the specification.

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