Apache SOAP was the first implementation of the SOAP specification. It was originally developed by IBM in early 2000 (then called SOAP4J) and contributed to Apache in June 2000. It is a very antique SOAP implementation. It predates WSDL, and it's very focused on supporting rpc/encoded services. The tooling is very limited, and interoperability has been challenging. Even worse, the code base is pretty complicated and hard to manage or enhance.
Faced with the need to make major revisions to this narly code base in early 2002, the Apache SOAP committers decided to start over and build a much more manageable, modular, and extensible SOAP implementation that was designed around WSDL and the emerging JAX-RPC specification. This new project is called Axis.
Since that time, no major enhancements have been made to the Apache SOAP project. The only enhancements have been critical bug fixes. All new development efforts have been focused on the Axis project. Axis is the most widely used open source SOAP implementation. It is available for both Java and C++. The latest version (currently in beta) is JAX-RPC 1.1 compliant, WS-I compliant, and (when combined with the rest of the Geronimo project) J2EE 1.4 compliant.
Developers should not use Apache SOAP for new development. Developers that have used Apache SOAP for existing projects should consider migrating to Axis.
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