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RE: XML.COM: How I Learned to Love daBomb

The timing of this was interesting for me. I just got back from a BOF Web
Services session at an IBM conference here in San Francisco. It was
interesting having discussions with other developers about what they are
doing with SOAP today. It was clear that there is a good deal of confusion
with all of these acronyms thrown about: SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, etc. It was also
clear there are plenty of examples of developers solving real world problems
today with SOAP and other XML messaging protocols without getting caught up
in all of this hype.

We've been doing integrations across the web using XML messaging for several
years now -- integrating with CRM systems, order entry systems,
synchronizing user profile info with directory services, providing single
sign-on solutions that integrate portals with hosted solutions across the
web. It's been working just fine. When SOAP came along, we aligned our
approach to SOAP. It's still working just fine. And last year we extended
our approach to include SOAP-based integrations with desktop productivity
tools -- MS Outlook and Excel -- allowing users to leverage our service from
non-browser tools, and to be able to synchronize data with applications
employed for offline use.

Those who don't see the proof that this works are simply not looking. And
no, you won't find that proof at the latest Semantic Web conference. You'll
have to be willing to engage with IT workers busily solving real world
problems to see that proof.

Don't get me wrong. I like the vision of the semantic web as much as the
next guy. But even it's most ardent advocates will say that it is probably a
decade or more from realization. And let's talk about hype for a moment --
like for instance the Scientific American article
co-authored by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila. Here's an

    At the doctor's office, Lucy instructed her Semantic Web agent through 
    her handheld Web browser. The agent promptly retrieved information about

    Mom's prescribed treatment from the doctor's agent, looked up several
    of providers, and checked for the ones in-plan for Mom's insurance
within a 
    20-mile radius of her home and with a rating of excellent or very good
    trusted rating services. It then began trying to find a match between 
    available appointment times (supplied by the agents of individual
    through their Web sites) and Pete's and Lucy's busy schedules... 

    In a few minutes the agent presented them with a plan. Pete didn't like
    -University Hospital was all the way across town from Mom's place, and
    be driving back in the middle of rush hour. He set his own agent to redo

    the search with stricter preferences about location and time. Lucy's
    having complete trust in Pete's agent in the context of the present
    automatically assisted by supplying access certificates and shortcuts to

    the data it had already sorted through.

Well, there's a nice healthy dose of realism to counter all of the Web
Services hype, huh? Regarding the "SOAP-enabled bathtub" that Edd Dumbill
refers to, I've heard plenty of hype around web services, but I've never
heard anyone involved in web services suggest anything quite that absurd. On
the other hand, given the scenarios we so often hear from Semantic Web
advocates, it somehow doesn't seem far-fetched to me that we might hear a
speach from Tim Berners-Lee or some other visionary about an RDF-enabled
bathtub that can describe it's water temperature and adjust itself in
response to some bathers "web agent". Indeed, the Scientific American
article I reference above assures me that some day my cell phone, TV, and
DVD will all talk to each other using RDF, and my TV and DVD will
automatically turn down their volume when I answer the phone. Yeah, someday.
But I think I'll see the SOAP-enabled bathtub ship sooner.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Winer [mailto:dave@userland.com]
> Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2001 5:09 PM
> To: xml-dev
> Subject: Re: XML.COM: How I Learned to Love daBomb
> It's also weird that they ignore the interesting stuff that 
> is happening in
> web services, lamenting that the BigCo's never do anything 
> interesting. The
> bug is with the reporters -- they prove over and over that 
> the BigCo's don't
> make interesting software, and then given the opportunity 
> they prove it
> again. And again. And again. You'd think they'd see the 
> pattern by now.
> In the meantime, Blogger is kicking butt, adding new services 
> every day, and
> a really interesting developer community is forming. You'd think that
> XML.Com would take notice, a headline like "Something is 
> Happening in Web
> Services After All." An interview with Evan Williams saying 
> "I have no idea
> how this stuff works but we're having a lot of fun," or 
> something like that.