[thelist] Web services - what's the difference?

Peter-Paul Koch gassinaumasis at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 14 12:34:13 CST 2002

I sent this mail yesterday but it never arrived on the list.

> > I'm having some trouble understanding the concept of web services.
>So is most of the web industry :)

Glad to know I'm not the only one.

>When *I* think of web services, I think in terms of an API, rather than
>in terms of a single application. A web service is typically a
>well-defined method of remotely calling a function, without having to
>worry about the exact implementation of the function. It's most useful
>when you have multiple servers that need access to the same set of
>functions, and/or when you want to expose some of your information to
>the outside world programatically.

Right, so is it kind of making your whole back-office system out of large
objects that gather, compress and make available large amounts of data?

>For example, I work for a company in the trucking industry. Our
>customers want to get tracking information about their shipments
>(similar to how you can get your tracking/delivery info from UPS or
>FedEx). The tracking information will include things like the addresses
>of the shipper and consignee (recipient), the terminal locations that
>picked up and delivered the shipment, who signed for it, dates and
>times, etc. I can code up a lot of the lookup functions as web services,
>because they are generally useful, both internally and externally.
>So, I code up an API for functions like "which terminal services this
>zip code?", or "return the full address and phone number for the
>terminal with termid XYZ", or "return tracking details for tracking ID
>nnnnnnnn", "what is the standard delivery time between these two zip
>codes?", etc. Not only can *I* use these functions internally to build
>tracking information web pages, but our customers can use it to embed
>our tracking info into their own web sites.

Right, but how does this work? If I, being on a different host and using a
different server side language, want to use your zipcode API, how do I do
it? By HTTP? Do I always receive XML from the API? Can I also use JavaScript
to pull these XML data files from your API's?

>Clear as mud?

Getting clearer, getting clearer.

ppk, freelance web developer
Interaction, copywriting, JavaScript, integration
Column "Keep it Simple": http://www.digital-web.com/columns/keepitsimple/
What shall we do with the W3C DOM?:

STOP MORE SPAM with the new MSN 8 and get 2 months FREE*

More information about the thelist mailing list