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How does SOAP fit into the grander scheme of Web services?

I'm a newbie just learning about Web services technology. How does SOAP play into the grand scheme of things? What is its function within the Web services industry?

You might find my white paper, "Introduction to Web Services", useful reading. You can find it here:

SOAP is one of the four core technologies that supports Web services.

The most basic technology that supports Web services is XML. Web services describe their interfaces using XML. Web services communicate using XML messages. The message data are encoded as XML. Although Web services can be developed using any XML-based communications protocol, the industry is converging on a core set of technologies to enable language- and platform-independence and to ensure multi-vendor interoperability. These technologies are:

  • Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which defines a standard data communications protocol for Web Services. SOAP provides a simple and consistent mechanism that allows one application to send an XML message to another application. A Web Service?s interface is defined by the SOAP messages that it supports.
  • Web Services Description Language (WSDL), which defines a standard mechanism to describe a Web Service. A WSDL document describes what functionality a Web Service offers, how it communicates, and where it is accessible. A WSDL document can be compiled to generate a client proxy that can call the Web service using SOAP.
  • Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), which provides a standard mechanism to advertise and discover Web Services. Users can query the registry based on company name, industry category, service type, or other criteria. UDDI provides pointers to the WSDL document that describes a service and to the access point of a service implementation.

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