Microsoft, IBM locate Web services with new standard

IBM and Microsoft on Thursday announced a new, jointly developed standard called Web Services-Inspection (WS-Inspection) that aims to make locating Web services easier for users.

WS-Inspection will allow users to discover what XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based Web services are offered by various companies by checking those companies' Web sites, said Bob Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy at IBM. Unlike other Web lookup standards like UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, Integration), which produces listing of Web services by category, whether the user is aware of the company offering them or not, WS-Inspection is a direct interrogation of a known company or provider, Sutor said. WS-Inspection does not compete with UDDI, however, but is rather a complimentary standard offering two different ways to find similar information, he said. UDDI was also jointly developed by IBM and Microsoft, along with Ariba Inc.

In order to find services listed using WS-Inspection, software developers will need to include WS-Inspection code in their applications, Sutor said. Toolkits to facilitate this development are available from both companies and Sutor expects that developers will begin to adopt the technology soon, though he didn't know when products using it might appear.

Businesses can offer WS-Inspection content by creating a WSDL (Web Service Description Language) description of the services they offer and putting it on their site, updating their WS-Inspection file and registering with directories, Sutor said. He also speculated that stand-alone applications to "crawl" Web sites searching for WSDL files might be created.

WS-Inspection "fills out the collection of things we think people are going to need" to take full advantage of Web services, Sutor said. "People have to be able to find (the services)," he said.

The companies will submit the standard to the appropriate standards body, be that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) or the XML consortium Oasis, Sutor said. He did not specify a timetable for that submission.

WS-Inspection is available immediately as a toolkit for IBM's Web Service Toolkit 2.4.1 and for Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net. The toolkit is available for download at either or msdn-files/026/002/541/msdncompositedoc.xml.

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