Getting started with Web services

[February 4, 2003 - ADT's Programmers Report] - Much has been made of Web services -- lightweight, Web-borne applications surrounded by XML snippets that describe what's inside. But they are not altogether new, at least when it comes to implementation issues. First adopters of Web services in the field describe some of the same issues developers know from the days of software components, libraries and classes. That is: Web services can be hard to find. Like components, you can't use what you don't know you have, and although a fellow team member or corporate partner has created some piece of functionality, that does not mean you can find it and tap into it in time to meet your project deadline.

Among the software vendors working to address this problem is LogicLibrary, which recently initiated a QuickStart program to push forward Web services initiatives. The company's credentials for such a task are considerable -- among the founders are individuals who spearheaded IBM's 1992 efforts to forge a San Francisco component framework and then move that framework to the EJB model fairly rapidly.

LogicLibrary's flagship product, Logidex, is a software development asset mapping and discovery engine that allows develops to search for and identify software assets such as Java or .NET components, XML schemas or software patterns.

We spoke with Duncan Dwelle, chief information technology officer at Accuchex, an employment services company that administers payrolls, employee benefits and the like for a variety of clients that use diverse software. Dwelle's team is working to implement Logidex, which was enhanced recently with a graphical interface for understanding Web service architectures, patterns and frameworks. The goal for Dwelle and company is to quickly reassemble software assets as Web services, regardless of location.

When we spoke, Dwelle's team was working to ''condition the assets we have so we can bring them into [Logidex]. It's part of an effort to wake up to Web services,'' said Dwelle.

''We are building a standardized XML template for import,'' he added.

''In our biz, there is a gulf between big competitors who control their technology and small companies that license from others,'' said Dwelle, adding that there are many jurisdictions and, thus, slight differences in implementation across different clients.

Said Dwelle: ''We are not a huge shop. We have a substantial and busy team. Finding what we already have is our biggest challenge.'' Dwelle added that he has special reason to be aware of this emerging Web services problem. ''I come to this from birth,'' he joked. ''My mother was a librarian.''

Naturally, LogicLibrary is not alone in its pursuit of better Web services component management. Count component specialist Flashline as another player in the fray. Last year, that company began to promote its Flashline Component Manager as a solution to this general problem. Others will hoe this path as well.

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About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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