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Created: February 07, 2002.
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IBM and Microsoft Announce Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I).

IBM and Microsoft, together with an additional fifty-three(+) industry leaders, have formed a new Web Services Interoperability Organization "committed to promoting interoperability among Web services based on common, industry-accepted definitions and related XML standards support. WS-I brings the work of multiple standards development organizations together for the purpose of providing clarity and conformance around Web Services." WS-I working groups will be chartered to produce specific sets of deliverables such as testing tools and sample Web services. These deliverables will be targeted at providing resources to assist Web services developers "to create interoperable Web services, and to verify that their results are compliant with both industry standards and WS-I recommended guidelines." Key deliverables include (1) Profiles, which identify version-specific sets of Web services specifications that interoperate to support specific types of solutions; (2) Sample Implementations exposing interoperability issues; (3) Implementation Guidelines with implementation scenarios, sample solutions, and test cases illustrating compliance verification; (4) A 'Sniffer' tool to monitor and log interactions with a Web service; (5) An 'Analyzer' conformance testing tool which processes sniffer logs to verify that the Web service implementation is error-free. WS-I is open to any organization supporting the goal of interoperable Web services.

"WS-I is an open, industry organization chartered to promote Web services interoperability across platforms, operating systems, and programming languages. The organization works across the industry and standards organizations to respond to customer needs by providing guidance, best practices, and resources for developing Web services solutions." [Website home page 2002-02-07]

Rationale: "SOAP 1.2, WSDL 1.1, and UDDI 2.0 are the latest specifications that are used to describe, publish, enable discovery, and invoke Web Services [but they are only] the beginning of the design and creation of specifications and standards to support the full Web services vision. For example, additional work is necessary for message extensibility, binary attachments, routing, correlation, guaranteed message exchange, signatures, encryption, transactions, process flow, inspection, and discovery... even though the industry may have the best intentions of ensuring interoperability on a specification by specification basis, a CIO, purchaser or other user of a Web service product (be it a tool, runtime, or web service itself) would find it very difficult to match several pieces of software necessary to complete a task or build a solution. The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) addresses this need through the concept of 'Profiles'..."

A WS-I Profile is "a named group of Web services specifications at specific version levels, along with conventions about how they work together. WS-I will develop a core collection of profiles that support interoperability for general purpose Web services functionality. Profiles make it easier to discuss Web services interoperability at a level of granularity that makes sense for developers, users, and executives making investment decisions about Web services and Web services products. WS-I focuses on compatibility at both the individual specification and at the Profile level. To be a useful concept and avoid confusion, the number of Profiles should remain relatively small. At the same time, too few profiles would require some Web services products to be forced to add unneeded features simply to conform to some Profile and assert interoperability. It will be an ongoing task of WS-I to design and update profiles that reflect real Web services usage in the industry... The first profile proposed is WS-I Basic (XML Schema 1.0, SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 1.0)... The development of additional or updated WS-I Profiles depends on the continued evolution and maturity of Web services specifications and standards. Each of the areas listed in the beginning of this paper is a candidate for additional Profile work as specifications are developed. Additional work in message extensibility, binary attachments, routing, correlation, guaranteed message exchange, signatures, encryption, transactions, process flow, inspection, and discovery is expected."

WS-I Test Resources:

  • Monitoring tools: 'Sniffer' will be provided to collect Web service message traces and generate a log for subsequent service message traces
  • Analysis tools: 'Analyzer' will examine traces for correctness and use of recommended practices
  • Output of analysis tools is used as a basis for WS-I compliance claims
  • Tools are intended for use by any Web service developer
  • Source code will be available

From the announcement:

Implementation Tools and Guidance: "To assist in ensuring the interoperability of Web services, WS-I will initially create a suite of tools and materials for testing implementation and conformance with "basic level" Web services standards: XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. These testing capabilities are important so customers can ensure that their implementations comply with the best-practices use of these Web services specifications. Tests will be self administered and aimed at uncovering unconventional usage or errors in specification implementations, thus improving interoperability between applications and across platforms.

Road Map for Web Services: "As Web services mature and gain mainstream momentum, the need will arise for additional capabilities that are not fully addressed in the current Web services standards. To meet these needs, WS-I will publish an architectural road map for identifying functional areas and capabilities that need to be addressed in future Web services specifications. As new specifications are created and adopted by multiple standards organizations to enhance current Web service capabilities, WS-I will provide a forum to ensure testing materials support the evolving set of requirements and their interdependencies."

The WS-I members include [2002-02-07]: Accenture, Akamai Technologies, Autodesk, BEA Systems, Borland, Business Objects, Cape Clear, Commerce One, CommerceQuest, Compaq, Corechange, Corillian, Daimler Chrysler, Dassault Systemes, Epicentric, Epicor, ESRI, FileNET, Flamenco Networks, Ford Motor Company, FrontRANGE Solutions, GrandCentral, Groove, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Corporation, Intel, Iona, JamCracker, JD Edwards and Company, KANA, Loudcloud, Macromedia, McAfee, Microsoft, Onyx, Peregrine Systems, Pivotal, Plumtree, POSC, Qwest, RealNames, Reed Elsivier, Reuters, Sabre, SAP Corporation, SAS, Sybase, Toshiba, Verisign, Versata, and webMethods. Additional members are expected to join.

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