WS-I ships Web services best practices

The Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) Organization last week released its Sample Application 1.0, a set of use cases, usage scenarios and technical architecture intended to help define best practices for using the WS-I's Basic Profile 1.0, and to offer Web services developers some real-world examples to help with their own projects.

Using a supply-chain scenario that models the interactions between multiple retail storefronts, warehouses and manufacturers, 10 members of the WS-I (BEA, Bowstreet, Corillian, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Quovadx, SAP and Sun Microsystems) each implemented the sample app using their individual tools and runtime platforms.

Sample Application 1.0 is available as a set of documents used to prepare the implementations, which the WS-I calls ''packages,'' explained SAP's Sinisa Zimek, chairman of the Sample Applications Working Group. ''We have 10 packages, and each one is very specific to the individual implementer,'' Zimek said. ''Each implementer chose a platform -- operating system, which is Java or .NET -- then the programming language that the implementation is based on, and then certain runtime and development time environments that were chosen to build this package.''

The big idea here, said Rob Cheng, product director at Oracle Corp., a WS-I founding member company, is to provide an example for developers to follow so that they can see how different WS-I members implemented Web services that conform to the Basic Profile.

''They're all interchangeable,'' Cheng told ADT . ''You can actually swap the individual entities and mix and match them. You could choose Oracle as the front end, IBM as the retailer, Microsoft as the warehouse, and so on. You can do it with different combinations, and all of them can be hosted or running on different platforms.''

Valuable as the sample app is as an educational tool, Cheng said, it might be even more valuable as a proof of concept for Web services interoperability in general.

''People wanted some real-world examples,'' Cheng said, ''and that's what the sample applications provide. They should bring a lot of confidence to people who are looking at starting Web services projects. They can see that these things really work together. Basically, we're proving out interoperability.''

Sample Application 1.0 represents the second of three deliverables the WS-I set out to provide when its members met for the first time in April of last year, said Cheng. The group unveiled a set of non-proprietary interoperability specifications known as Basic Profile 1.0 earlier this year. Next on the list is a set of testing tools for verifying compliance with the Basic Profile, which Cheng said would be delivered during the first quarter of 2004.

When it held its first meeting last April, the WS-I boasted a charter membership of more than 100 companies. Led by IBM and Microsoft, it was the first industry group formed to promote Web services interoperability across platforms, applications and programming languages. The group's founding membership includes Accenture, BEA Systems, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

The WS-I made its announcement at the XML 2003 conference in Philadelphia, where the group demonstrated some of the member company implementations of the sample applications.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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