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XMLP Working Group Recommendations for Optimized Web Services

World Wide Web Consortium Issues Three Web Services Recommendations

Three-Part Solution Leads to Better Web Services Performance — 25-January-2005.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published three new Web Services Recommendations: XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP), SOAP Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM), and Resource Representation SOAP Header Block (RRSHB). These recommendations provides ways to efficiently package and transmit binary data included or referenced in a SOAP 1.2 message.

Web Services Applications Need Effective, Standard Methods for Handling Binary Data

Web Services applications have the primary goal of sharing and using data between applications. This includes an increasingly diverse set of media formats and devices, including large schematics and other graphical files. Examples are as intricate as sharing architectural blueprints between multiple parties, or as simple as sending a photo from a digital camera directly to a printer.

One of the biggest technical and performance issues for Web services occurs when a user or application is handling large binary files. Encoding binary data as XML produces huge files, which absorbs bandwidth and measurably slows down applications. For some devices, it slows down so much that the performance is considered unacceptable.

W3C Devises Three-Part Solution for Better Web Services Performance

W3C's XML Protocol Working Group has been looking at this issue almost from its inception, while it was developing the first SOAP standard, SOAP 1.2. The newest Recommendations published today work with SOAP 1.2 to address the specific issue of improving Web services performance by providing standard methods and mechanisms for transmitting large binary data.

"By enabling a more efficient way of serialize and transmit a SOAP message (XOP and MTOM), and by sending all the data needed to process the message, even when the data would not be readily available (RRSHB), Web Services have just become faster and more usable, " explained Yves Lafon, W3C Team Contact for the XMLP Working Group.

XOP Allows Efficient Encoding of Binary Data in XML

XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP) provides a standard method for applications to include binary data, as is, along with an XML document in a package. As a result, applications need less space to store the data and less bandwidth to transmit it. XOP works at the XML Information Set (Infoset) level, allowing the same abstract representation of a XML document to be serialized in different ways.

MTOM implements XOP, makes SOAP 1.2 faster

The Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) uses the features provided by XOP to address SOAP messages. MTOM defines a "Transmission Optimization" feature that enables SOAP bindings to optimize the transmission and/or the wire format used to transfer a SOAP message. It also defines a concrete implementation of this feature, using HTTP and XOP to send the various binary parts as well as the SOAP message in a MIME envelope, reducing the bandwidth and the time used to encode/decode such data.

RRSHB Gives Applications a Local Short Cut to Resources

The third piece, the Resource Representation SOAP Header Block (RRSHB) functionality allows SOAP message recipients to access cached representations of external resources. This is important, as there may be times when there are either limits to bandwidth or access of files. It gives the recipient the option of using either the original file that may be identified by a URI, or to use a cached copy that accompanies the actual SOAP message. Used with MTOM, it enhance greatly the speed and of processing as the external data is already present when the recipient is starting processing the message.

Testimonials for Three W3C XMLP Recommendations

BEA Systems

BEA Systems is extremely pleased that the XOP, MTOM and RRSHB specifications have been approved as W3C Recommendations. Together, these specifications will allow Web services extensions and applications to retain an XML Infoset model for all content, retaining interoperability with the existing stack of XML tools and specifications. Additionally, XOP is an important step towards the improvement of XML performance. BEA is proud to have been a key contributor to the development and standardisation of these specifications.
      — Mark Nottingham, Senior Principal Technologist, BEA Systems


IBM is committed to using open standards to help customers become on demand businesses that create higher levels of efficiency, new flexible business and unlock hidden revenue opportunities. SOAP has played an important role in this strategy. These new SOAP message optimization technologies combined with other critical Web services technologies, such as WSDL and BPEL will further enable our customers to achieve their business goals. IBM is committed to the development of open standards for Web services and their incorporation into our products, ensuring interoperability for our customers, regardless of the individual components of their IT Infrastructure.
      — Karla Norsworthy, VP Software Standards, IBM


Microsoft is committed to MTOM as the definitive solution for including opaque data in XML and SOAP messages, and we plan to implement support for MTOM across our XML-aware product line.
      — Don Box, Architect, Microsoft Corporation

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. More than 350 organizations are Members of W3C. To learn more, see


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The announcement is also available in French and Japanese.

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See details in the news story "W3C Web Services Recommendations Support Faster Binary Data Transmission." Earlier news story: "W3C Web Services Working Groups Release New Drafts on Handling of Binary Data."

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