I have developed a portal and I need to know how to connect to a Web service?
A portal is a Web site that contains a variety of content that can either be configured by a user or by a domain administrator. Portals pages generally contain multiple small windows of information that can be updated autonomously from the rest of the page.
Web services are a natural fit for a portal site because content can be retrieved from any arbitrary site using the technologies and features that Web services offer.
Web services, today, are typically embodied within the following four operations:
1) Implement - Web services are currently generally developed using the SOAP-over-HTTP protocol. This involves packaging content as an XML document with remote procedure call (RPC) encodings or as one discreet XML document. Either type of packaging embeds the payload contents within an entity called a "SOAP Envelope."
2) Describe - Once a Web service has been implemented, its content and semantics need to be described in order to be effectively used by external parties.
3) Publish - Web services can be published to registries, such as UDDI or ebXML, in order to be located by interested consumers.
4) Locate - Once a Web service has been published and described, consumers can locate the Web service and make remote calls to it to retrieve the data.
Using these four operations, a portal site can effectively find content and publish content. Within a J2EE environment, a portal site can expose content to client browsers as sets of related business services that are implemented using the Java programming language.
A typical scenario might involve a user directing a Web browser to the portal site, where a Java servlet can field the HTTP request and dispatch it to the appropriate business service. The business service can retrieve the desired content from a particular Web service using a variety of available technologies including AXIS, Apache SOAP and the Java Web Services Developer Pack. Once the content has been retrieved, it can be formatted appropriately for the user's browser and returned.
AXIS, Apache SOAP and the Java Web Services Developer Pack all provide the necessary tools for implementing a full-scale portal site within the J2EE environment. To avoid the costs and headaches of building a portal site entirely from scratch, I recommend that you start with a commercial platform that does a lot of the work for you such as the Zareus Application Platform from Zareus, Inc., the WASP Server for Java from Systinet, CapeConnect from Cape Clear and others.
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