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   SOAP and the Web

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Warning....overheated prose below. I'm a little bit tired of people NOT
UNDERSTANDING (perhaps not entirely READING) the article and then
commenting on it as if they did.

Mike Champion wrote:

> Joel Sapolsky has the most interesting pro-SOAP
> commentary that I've seen yet, and he makes it clear
> that It's the Visual GUI, Stupid.
> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/news/20020425.html

Here are the major categories of responses I've gotten to the article:

 * "Performance doesn't matter dummy" -- as if I didn't say in the
article: "performance is a minor issue compared to linking." -- Joel is
a stand-out because he said performance DOES matter -- for Google if not
for the rest of us.

 * "It's all just syntax -- it doesn't matter" -- as if I didn't show
things that could be done with the HTTP-way but *not with* the SOAP way.

 * "The big companies have chosen. Alternate views at this point are
just confusion." -- that would be fine if the technique that the big
companies have chosen weren't fundamentally bankrupt.

 * "It's the tools dummy" -- as if I didn't show that the .NET Framework
(i.e. Visual Studio) has *quite good support* for HTTP-based web

I feel like these people didn't read the article. It is quite long and
this is the Internet age so I'm not surprised people that skim. But then
they write these weblog posts "rebutting" an argument that they didn't

Joel says: "Many things in SOAP are there to make it easier. WSDL is
there so that I can type "google" followed by a dot and immediately get
a little intellisense popup telling me what methods I can call. Then I
can choose doGoogleSearch from the popup list and get intellisense again
prompting me for all the arguments, and I can get little wavy red
underlines in my editor if I pass a string where a long was expected."

Guess what Joel! That isn't SOAP. SOAP is irrelevant. That's WSDL. My
article was *PRO-WSDL*.

In the article I pointed you to a WSDL that should have *exactly the
same behaviour* in Visual Studio.NET (I've only tried it with the
command line tools myself). I had a whole section of the article on ease
of use but it seems to have flown over people's heads.

This is what frightens me. People around the world are "choosing" SOAP
without the slightest understanding about what it is or how it relates
to the tools they use.

Here's another point about Joel's article. He says:

"The real problem with SOAP is that it's a completely inadequate
remoting system. .... It doesn't support references (ditto). It has
about 10 years to go before it gets to where CORBA and DCOM were 10
years ago."

Guess what Joel. That's the problem I'm *trying* *to* *freaking*
*solve*. Re-read the article. It says:

"The point that has not yet filtered through to the mainstream of web
services implementors is that linking is just as important for
machine-to-machine applications as it is for human-facing applications.
If it is impossible to link to SOAP-exposed resources, then they are
less powerful and useful than HTTP-exposed ones. Until SOAP has an
addressing mechanism as rich as HTTP URIs, SOAP is less, rather than
more powerful than HTTP."

You use the term references. I use the term hyperlinks. We're talking
about the same thing. We should be on the same side. SOAP doesn't
support references because the reference syntax used on the Web is URLs
and SOAP doesn't have properly support for exposing resources through

He also says: "And we're supposed to be all excited about this because
we can sneak through the firewall. Gee, I wonder what the firewall
vendors are working on these days? As soon as they're done, we're even
further back than we started."

That's an insight that most of the web services guys haven't caught yet.
Oh well.

 Paul Prescod


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