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From Alex McLintock <ale...@yahoo.com>
Subject Professional XML Web Services, Book Review
Date Wed, 05 Dec 2001 12:01:16 GMT
Hi Folks, 

Another book review of a computing book which mentions Apache XML software.
As usual feel free to email me if you think this is innappropriate for this
mailing list. PLug for my website down the bottom so you don't have
to see it if you don't want to.




Professional XML Web Services
Publisher: Wrox Press
Author: Too Many TO Mention
ISBN: 1-861005-09-1
Price: 47.99 UKP
Price: 59.99 USD
Publisher Website: http://www.wrox.com

As the introduction says this is a book for developers who want to know more about the current
set
of tools out there for providing "XML web services".Sadly it misses out a vital stage - one
of how
to decide when this is the right technology to use.

Oh well. I *think* that I know that - but only from experience. There are many other techniques
that you can look at instead including Corba, or email, or plain old http requests.However
if you
have decided that SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, and .Net sound cool and that you have to learn more about
them
then you could pick up this book.

It is fairly extensive in these regions and at fifty quid it better be. With twelve authors
on the
front it had better cover a lot of ground. And it does.

But there in lies its problem. It isn't trying to convey the fact that you should, as a developer,
know all of these topics in detail. It is much more trying to look at a number of competing
technologies and implementations. All the authors have contributed one or two chapters, but
one
wonders why couldn't they have gotten one or two of them to write the whole thing? I suppose
the
answer yet again is being the first to market, but, I don't know whether that is the right
thing.

Chapter Three looks at SOAP, and your immediate reaction is "Is that it?"  "The big fuss is
about
this?" (It explicitly does not look at SOAP V1.2 which was not finalised at publication).
Anyone
who has considered using XML as a transport mechanism for CORBA or similar networking systems
will
have considered most of this before. However of course it is far easier (and more productive)
to
re-use an existing protocol rather than developing your own. Anyone who has programmed CORBA
in a
diverse environment will have thought about ways to disassociate the client and server so
that
they don't have to worry about things like "version of Orbix" or whether the client is using
Iona's or Sun's Corba code. However this chapter is still very theoretical. There isn't any
discussion of the relative merits of different SOAP tools yet.

WSDL is looked at in Chapter 4, but still lacks something. What it lacks for me is a problem
to
solve. I guess this is a chicken and egg situation. You don't need a Web Services Definition
Language until you have some web services to define. Likewise if you have a web service, how
do
you tell the possible clients its interface details. I'm sure that Corba attempted something
similar, but I don't remember it being popular.  This WSDL chapter makes it all look a lot
easier.

Every page has several XML snippets which make the whole thing easy to grasp even if you are
doing
little more than skimming over the book. For some reason we are introduced to some SOAP toolkits
now: Microsoft's & IBM's because they have adopted WSDL.

The SOAP Bindings chapter is mostly about transport mechanisms. The one which interests me
most of
all is Apache SOAP and Tomcat (since Apache is the route I most often travel). But it also
looks
at FTP and SMTP as alternatives...

Now here comes (IMHO) the Biggy. The first chapter on UDDI.  I wont comment much on this chapter
except to repeat most of the criticisms made above. I'll let another reviewer with more experience
of UDDI look into this. I wanted more of "This is the sort of problem which UDDI solves".
This is
the first chapter I spotted which requires a detailed API explanation.  It briefly mentions
ebXML
(which attempts to solve similar problems in a slightly different way), and JAXR which attempts
to
wrap things like UDDI in a consistent way. I was a bit miffed to find that almost all the
examples
used American methods of classification and seemed to assume that all readers were familiar
with
them.


Chapters 7, 8 and 9 look at different UDDI and SOAP implementations with particular emphasis
on
the Microsoft SOAP toolkit. I skipped that bit. I don't want to develop on a Windows platform
again. Life is too short. But of course you might want to. Likewise this chapter looked at
C++
SOAP implementations as well as Java and other languages. In real development you will probably
stick to one of these and so not need the other details.

Chapter 10 is the one to read in detail. This is the big example application starting off
from
first requirements (written in a very tongue in cheek style) to an implementation in java
using
Tomcat, IBM's WSTK, UDDI and so on. 

Chapter 11 looks at .Net Web services. As mentioned earlier I don't intend to do any more
Windows
software development so I can't really comment on this chapter further. However were I forced
into
doing it I think this chapter looks detailed enough to satisfy me. 

Chapter 12 is the odd child of the lot. A whole chapter on "Developing Web Services with Python"?
No Comment.

Chapter 13 looks at Security and I am not at all convinced that it communicated the strategy
which
needs to be used here. Perhaps someone else could look at the chapter and comment on it.

Two Detailed Case studies follow, and a printout of the W3X Notes for SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1,
and
something official looking about UDDI data types. It is amusing to note that the last WSDL
chapter
has WDSL written in the header of every page. I've spotted a few major typos like that and
it
worries me a bit. I think perhaps a link to the errata might be worthwhile.




 






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=====
Alex McLintock        alex@OWAL.co.uk    Open Source Consultancy in London
OpenWeb Analysts Ltd, http://www.OWAL.co.uk/ 
---
SF and Computing Book News and Reviews: http://news.diversebooks.com/
Get Your XML T-Shirt <t-shirt/> at http://www.inversity.co.uk/
COMPETITION : http://news.diversebooks.com/article.pl?sid=01/10/08/1947255

________________________________________________________________
Nokia 5510 looks weird sounds great. 
Go to http://uk.promotions.yahoo.com/nokia/ discover and win it! 
The competition ends 16 th of December 2001.

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