IBM readies Web services workflow proposal

IBM in the next few weeks will unveil Web Services Flow Language (WSFL), a proposal for how to define workflows for Web services, the company's director of e-business standards strategy said on Thursday at the 10th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW10) here.

Robert Sutor told hundreds of attendees here that now is a critical time in the development of Web services, which are functions that can be carried out over the Web through communication among both humans and machines. Examples of Web services may include matching vendors and customers or carrying out and recording transactions.

"We are in a (moment) that will later be seen as the most important period for Web services in terms of getting it right," Sutor said.

WSFL will provide a way to describe how a series of functions will work in providing Web services, Sutor said in a keynote address on the second day of WWW10. For example, it will propose a way to define how a service will perform, which will let providers of any kind of Web service guarantee a level of performance in a standard way. Then, companies looking for such a service will be able to tell how fast or reliable it will be.

By the end of June, the various groups governing standards and protocols for Web services probably will have laid out which organizations are responsible for working out different areas of Web services, Sutor said.

IBM's upcoming proposal for workflow is designed to follow on earlier specifications such as the work of the Workflow Management Coalition, but take a "clean slate" approach for the new age of services provided over the Web, Sutor said in an interview following the keynote. It is intended only as an initial proposal and IBM expects it to be refined by other companies and standards bodies.

"We expect this to be standardised," Sutor said, meaning it would go through a standards-setting review process.

WWW10 continues through Saturday.

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