Don't rush to SOAP 1.2 conversions

Developers need not rush to convert existing applications to use the SOAP 1.2 specs -- which were finally completed by the W3C last week -- suggests an architect who worked on the early stages of the messaging specification.

"For people currently using SOAP 1.1, the benefit [of converting to SOAP 1.2] is not in their current deployment," said Rich Salz, chief security architect at DataPower Technology Inc., Cambridge, Mass. ( "What SOAP 1.2 brings to the table is that it is a clearer and more rigorous spec and it's more transport-neutral. It uses HTTP better, more in the spirit of the Web. It is neutral about HTTP vs. anything else."

Salz said he would be hard-pressed to make a case that an existing SOAP 1.1 application needed to be converted to SOAP 1.2. "If I'm sending an XML SOAP message over HTTP from one point to another and getting a response back, that's basically the same except for some syntax," he said.

Salz estimates that 90% of the changes between SOAP 1.1 and SOAP 1.2 are syntactic. "The namespaces changed," he explained, "and the names of some attributes changed."

However, he did note that in some cases there could be advantages to the updated XML messaging specification, especially its neutrality as to transport mechanism that will have benefits for developers going forward.

"The structure and format of the data is independent of the transport, which is pretty neat," Salz explained. "It's going to be an XML SOAP message whether it comes via e-mail, EDI, MQ or anything."

With SOAP 1.2 developers gain advantages, including not having to worry about how messages are sent, he said. It also benefits developers working on integration projects with existing messaging systems, Salz added.

"If I want to integrate IBM MQ Series or JMS, SOAP 1.2 makes it much clearer as to how to do that," he said. "IBM does SOAP over MQ, now WebSphere MQ, so that back-office things like financial data become more accessible and usable to a Web services application. The traditional enterprise infrastructure opens up even more, so more data is exchanged with trading partners. Business logic becomes more generic and lightweight in that it has this nice messaging infrastructure available to it."

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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