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Web Services Overview

Web services are a mechanism for making the functionality of application software and data accessible across the internet using standards-based protocols.  This concept is labeled as a service because it enables one computing device to be served by another computing device as a provider of a well defined function (the service) or data.  The web service is "published" using standard protocols so it can be found, identified, verified and utilized by any other computing device that has the ability and the rights to access it.  Neutrality is central to the to the concept of web services.  A web service must be vendor neutral, platform neutral, protocol neutral and language neutral.

The standard for web service information exchange is SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). W3C (http://www.w3.org/TR/soap11/) describes SOAP as follows:

"SOAP is a lightweight protocol for exchange of information in a decentralized, distributed environment. It is an XML based protocol that consists of three parts: an envelope that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process it, a set of encoding rules for expressing instances of application-defined datatypes, and a convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses."

While SOAP can potentially be used with other protocols, the current focus of SOAP within the industry and, therefore, within Visual DataFlex is using SOAP over HTTP (i.e., over the Internet).

The focus of Web Services within Visual DataFlex is the execution of application logic and the exchange of information. By conforming with established standards, a web service built with Visual DataFlex allows you to publish  functionality that can be called remotely, over the Internet, by any collaborating application in the world. This web service function is delivered by the Visual DataFlex Web Application Server.  The application calling the published, Visual DataFlex based function can reside on any platform in any location and be implemented in any language. The only factor critical to the successful publication and utilization of web services is that the participants have the ability to interact over the Internet using standard protocols.

Learn more about Web Services in Visual DataFlex.

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