On Fri, 13 Dec 2002, Peter-Paul Koch wrote: > Hi, > > I'm having some trouble understanding the concept of web services. So is most of the web industry :) > So currently I'm thinking that the term 'web services' is one more in the > long string of meaningless market-isms that engulfs the Web. The idea behind > web services is solid, of course, but there isn't much difference with the > old situation. 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. 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. Why would we want that? Let's say that MY customer is a furniture store, Foo Furniture. FF uses us as their shipper. John Q. Public goes to Foo, and buys a houseful of furniture and tells Foo to deliver it to their home. Foo gives JQP a tracking number, and links it to *our* tracking number. When JQP checks the Foo website to track the status of their delivery, the Foo server contacts the web service that we provide, gets back an XML dataset, parses it out, and presents some results back to John, who never has to know, or indeed care, that a third party is doing the delivery, or that the other web site was contacted to get the tracking info. Clear as mud? -- Ernest MacDougal Campbell III, MCP+I, MCSE <dougal at gunters.org> http://dougal.gunters.org/ http://spam.gunters.org/ Web Design & Development: http://www.mentalcollective.com/ This message is guaranteed to be 100% eror frea!