WebServices Interoperability

More and more we’re finding that WSDL lies at the heart of Web services interoperability. WSDL is the description language for Web services. Usually a WSDL document is automatically generated by Web services framework tools (e.g., Axis, WASP WSDLCompiler) from the code written in a particular programming language. Developers can use the WSDL document to generate client-side stubs or proxies, which provide convenient access to Web services. Thus the key to enabling seamless Web services interoperability is the ability of one Web services framework to consume the WSDL documents generated by other frameworks. The WSDL interoperability effort is just taking off. You can see further details.

How to not get trapped

The following subchapters give you some basic tips on how to write interoperable Web services using today’s Web services frameworks. These tips may significantly ease your life as well as the lives of other developers who will use your Web services. Hopefully some of those tips will be outdated soon.

Keep your types simple – avoid advanced XML Schema constructs

The XML Schema standard is very complex and difficult to implement. Moreover, XML Schema processing is quite time consuming, so many frameworks sacrifice full XML Schema support for performance. Some advanced XML Schema constructs (e.g., choice) are quite hard to express in a programming language, and few Web services frameworks support them. So the key success factor in Web services interoperability is to use basic data types, such as primitive data types, arrays, and structures. As a best practice, decompose the complex types in your interfaces into simple and clean interfaces with basic data types. Also avoid using specific techniques (e.g. INOUT parameter passing) that aren’t widely supported.