Soap 1.2 specification takes next step

An upcoming version of the Web services specification Simple Object Access Protocol (Soap) has moved a step closer to...

An upcoming version of the Web services specification Simple Object Access Protocol (Soap) has moved a step closer to finalisation and may be completed by March, according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

W3C yesterday announced that Soap 1.2 has advanced to the "Candidate Recommendation" stage, meaning developers are being called on to implement the proposed Web services specification.

Soap 1.2 features stronger XML support and error reporting as well as bug fixes.

An earlier intellectual property issue in which two vendors, webMethods and Epicentric, had not relinquished rights to royalties for use of their technologies in Soap 1.2, has been at least partially resolved, according to W3C representative Janet Daly.

W3C urges companies contributing technologies to relinquish royalty rights.

Epicentric, which was recently acquired by Vignette, has waived royalty rights. WebMethods dropped out of the W3C XML Protocol Working Group, which is the working group developing Soap 1.2. The company said it had not identified any of its patents in the specification and was not claiming any specific patent rights.

The functionality of Version 1.2 is, essentially, the same as the existing W3C standard, Version 1.1, according to Daly.

"The advantage of 1.2 is that it may not necessarily be different features or functionalities, it's the fact that this version has been tested by a broad range of implementers and has had more review than the five companies that originally worked on the 1.1 document," Daly said.

Those companies were Microsoft, IBM, UserLand, DevelopMentor, and Lotus. Soap 1.1 was published in April 2000.

An analyst said Soap 1.2 differed from Version 1.1 only in that it was not entirely steered by Microsoft and IBM.

"Although Soap 1.2 involves a lot more players, if it wasn't for Microsoft and IBM, Soap wouldn't be on the radar," said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink. A highlight of Version 1.2 is XML Schema support.

Soap is a three-part protocol. It features an envelope containing information about what is in a Web service message and how to process it; it has a set of rules for describing data types and a way of representing remote procedure calls and responses.

The W3C Web site describes Soap 1.2 as a lightweight protocol for exchanging structured information in a decentralised, distributed environment.

"It uses XML technologies to define an extensible messaging framework providing a message construct that can be exchanged over a variety of underlying protocols," according to W3C.

Also under development by W3C are a feature for using Soap 1.2 with attachments, as well as Version 1.2 test suites and usage scenarios.

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