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Web services is a blanket term used for defining the infrastructure required to link applications in a business-to-business (B2B) world. Web services go beyond those things traditionally provided by Web applications and provide a standard mechanism for linking disparate systems in a uniform and well-defined manner. Web services provide a common protocol that Web applications can use to connect to each other over the Internet.

Web services will change the way the industry and companies view their applications. Applications that previously were difficult or impossible to combine can be exposed and connected quickly and easily using Web services.

A Web service is made up of a number of the following parts and services:
  • Web Services Description Language, or WSDL, is used to define the external view of a service. Applications use WSDL to understand how to talk to existing Web services and how to expose functionality as a Web service. WSDL works much like a Remote Procedure Call (RPC) mechanism and is written completely in XML.
  • UDDI and Electronic Business XML Initiative (ebXML) provide a mechanism that both registers and searches for a given service. Using WSDL, a Web service makes itself known in the global “marketplace” via the UDDI publish service (by publishing your XML Web service to the UDDI registry). Other Web services can then find an existing service by using the UDDI Inquiry API. UDDI represents simple, typically point-to-point Web services. ebXML provides a mechanism similar to UDDI but with a much broader list of query APIs. It is typically found in more complex applications that require multiple services to interact at one time.
  • SOAP provides the final portion of a Web service, using a mechanism to invoke a Web service that we have found using UDDI and understand via WSDL.
Web services are an interesting new area that focuses on exposing enterprise services through the Web. A point to note is that Web services are a number of interconnected protocols, defined using the Java community process (JCP), but technically not J2EE services.
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