W3C close to ratifying Soap 1.2

Soap 1.2, the proposed revision of the Simple Object Access Protocol Web services specification, may be finalised by the World...

Soap 1.2, the proposed revision of the Simple Object Access Protocol Web services specification, may be finalised by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) within two to three months, although intellectual property rights could hinder the process.

The 393 issues raised by industry participants around the development of Soap 1.2 since June 2001 have been narrowed down to just 11, said W3C representative Janet Daly.

Among the remaining issues to be resolved is intellectual property, with the group believing "there may be significant intellectual property issues with the Soap specification".

"Multiple companies have said they believe they may have relevant patents. Further investigation is required here before the specification should proceed to PR [proposed recommendation] phase," W3C said in a statement.

Two vendors, webMethods and Epicentric (recently acquired by Vignette) have stated they may have possible patents pertaining to Soap 1.2, with webMethods stating it is unwilling to waive its patent rights and Epicentric saying it has not been given permission to make a public statement. There have been no changes to those statements as of Friday but that may happen next week, according to Daly.

If they have patents, webMethods and Epicentric may be able to charge royalties for their technologies. However, the XML Protocol Group activity was chartered with a royalty-free IPR mode. The two vendors "are not saying they have a patent, they're saying they may have a patent," Daly noted.

"They have not declared any patents by number," she added.

Other vendors participating in the working group, including IBM and Tibco Software, reported that they had not identified any intellectual property rights related to the Soap 1.2 effort and therefore had not declared any.

Tibco however, said it had not identified any intellectual property rights in the current XML Protocols activity but that it may own patents or have other intellectual property rights in this activity or may identify subsequent contributions to the W3C as containing intellectual property rights.

Microsoft, which has also not declared any patents pertaining to Soap 1.2, is granting royalty-free use of its copyrights for use in the specification.

Other outstanding issues in Soap 1.2 include the scope of the specification itself, lack of both a dedicated conformance section in the specification and a conformance clause and de-referencing of universal resource identifiers (URIs) inside Soap.

Additional issues include implementation technicalities and issues with specific technical terms and characterisation of white space.

The working group is chartered with developing an XML-based protocol, Soap 1.2, to:

  • Provide an envelope to encapsulate XML data for transfer in an interoperable manner allowing for distributed extensibility, evolution and intermediaries such as proxies, caches and gateways.

  • Produce in co-operation with IETF an OS-neutral convention for the content of the envelope when used for RPC applications.

  • Build a mechanism to serialise data based on XML Schema data types.

  • Work with IETF to develop a non-exclusive mechanism layered on HTTP transport.

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