An open source tool, due to be completed in the next few months, is promising to simplify the way web services are developed.
The open source Restlet project aims to give developers an easier way to use Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol), an XML-based protocol which lies at the heart of web services.
Bola Rotibi, senior analyst at Ovum, said, "Specifying and creating web services is quite difficult. Restlet enables developers to handle XML and remote procedure, which are needed for building web services, in a way that avoids having to understand the complexity of Soap and HTTP."
In effect, Restlet is a lightweight application programming interface that developers can use for creating web services. Rotibi regards the development of Restlet as a way for open source technology to evolve.
"There is a growing trend in the open source community to focus on areas that are causing pain and get some benefits," she said.
One early adopter using Restlet is the Science Photo Library, where developer Neoworks has used it to build a new e-commerce website. Neoworks used a pre-release version of the Restlet technology for the project.
Restlet was used to enable XML messaging between proprietary back-end systems run by the Science Photo Library, the web server and applications running searches and other services. The e-commerce function allows customers to buy online directly.
On the existing website, launched in 2001, customers could view images but would have to call to buy them. The new site will be launched later this year.
Neoworks said the use of Restlet made the site more responsive and easier to maintain. It avoided having to create a software "object" for all the data moving between systems, as Soap requires.
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