WS-I seeks interoperable Web services

Achieving the much-hyped nirvana of system interoperability via Web services is the goal of the newly released Web Services Interoperability Organization's (WS-I) Basic Profile 1.0 document.

Basic Profile 1.0 consists of implementation guidelines on using core Web services specifications together to develop interoperable Web services. Those specifications include SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0, and XML Schema.

The availability of Basic Profile 1.0 sets the stage for unified Web services support in technologies such as the next major version of the enterprise Java specification, J2EE 1.4, and the upcoming upgrade of the IBM WebSphere Studio development environment. Version 1.0 is intended to provide a common framework for implementing interoperable solutions while buyers will have a common reference point for purchasing decisions, according to WS-I.

"Without these guidelines, there are enough ambiguities in the way you can implement these standards that Web services built by different companies (or on different platforms) will not be interoperable with each other," said Andy Astor, a member of the WS-I board of directors and chairman of marketing and communications at webMethods.

The profile features a set of guidelines resolving more than 200 interoperability issues, Astor said. Following release of the profile, WS-I this fall plans to release testing tools to verify conformance with the profile, as well as sample applications to demonstrate use. Test tools will be available in both C# and Java implementations. WS-I, with the release of the tools, also will announce how Web services software vendors and service providers can claim conformance of their products to Basic Profile 1.0.

Future WS-I profiles are expected to add functionality such as security, via the Basic Security Profile, and Web services attachments capabilities through use of SOAP with Attachments technology, said Mark Hapner, WS-I board member and Web services strategist for Java at Sun Microsystems.

Sun has been awaiting the release of Basic Profile so it could include it in J2EE 1.4. Sun now plans to release J2EE 1.4, which will feature Web services enablement, in the fourth quarter of this year, Hapner said.

IBM, meanwhile, plans to add support for the profile in Version 5.1.1 of the WebSphere Studio development environment when it is released later this month, according to officials at IBM.

Some vendors such as Microsoft already have supported the profile in products, based on details already released about it. A working draft was released by WS-I in October.

"Microsoft applauds the ratification of the Basic Profile 1.0, and sees it as a significant milestone, taking the industry a step closer to ensuring Web services are able to interoperate across heterogeneous systems," said Microsoft's Steven VanRoekel, director of Web services, in a prepared statement.

Basic Profile 1.0 was approved unanimously July 22 by the 11-member WS-I board of directors and by approximately 150 member organizations at large earlier this month.

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