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Toolkit brings Web services standards closer to developers

IBM recently released a new toolkit that gives developers the opportunity to test drive emerging Web services specifications.

IBM has made it easy for developers to test drive emerging Web services standards.

The IBM Emerging Technologies Toolkit (ETTK) allows developers to design, develop and execute emerging Web services and autonomic technologies. The latest 2.2 release adds new content and demos, support for semantic Web services, Endpoint Discovery, prototypes of WS-Addressing, WS-MetadataExchange, WS-Agreement and more.

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In addition to enabling developers to create and deploy Web services, the toolkit showcases -- through reference implementations and demos -- the real world use of emerging Web services standards.

In a former incarnation, the ETTK was known as the Web Services Toolkit; however, it has evolved and now encompasses more tools such as the Generic Manageability Library, which enables the integration of distributed application components into one autonomic system. Autonomic computing is an approach to self-managed computing systems requiring minimal human interaction.

Autonomic computing occurs on top of the Web services layer and allows developers to monitor and secure disparate systems via log files, security policies and, in effect, enables a system to be "self-healing" in the case of an attack or failure. The WS-Resource wrapper for the Common Information Model, for instance, enables developers to redirect resources on the fly via a CIM mapping, in the event that a Windows system went down.

The ETTK also aims to bring the burgeoning Web services specifications closer to the developer.

IBM wants to show that these specs are not just 'paperware' and that they can work with real life code
John Feller
Manager of emerging technologies developmentIBM

"The WS-* specs are specifications that IBM works on with partners such as BEA, Oracle, Microsoft and others. IBM wants to show that these specs are not just 'paperware' and that they can work with real life code," said John Feller, manager of emerging technologies development.

"The ETTK is comprised of multiple demos that show a particular feature. For instance, there is a separate demo for WS-Addressing and WS-ResourceWrapper for CIM, while some demos are combined (around various interdependent specs)," Feller said. Developers can download the ETTK, or run the demo on the IBM AlphaWorks Web site; the demo describes the specification and shows the user a code snippet and a sample program that uses these APIs. Developers might then use that sample code to write their own implementation.

"Until you write the code, there might be room for interpretation of the specs," Feller said. "The ETTK is a prototype suite. Some of the things in the toolkit are pure 'demoware.' It's all about how somebody implements it."

The ETTK is free and available from IBM AlphaWorks and has been a top download from the site, which is an online repository of emerging technologies and research prototypes from IBM. By showcasing these prototypes, IBM receives valuable feedback used to design its products. As end users download the ETTK, they also have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences. In fact, the feedback provided not only helps to flush out bugs but, to some extent, helps define the course that standards bodies like OASIS and the World Wide Web Consortium take, Feller said. "We have an online form through which people can submit questions pertaining to usage," Feller said. "There have been mixed responses, but overall people have been very thankful, some describing how hard it is to find implementations of WS-Addressing on the Web."

Along with the questions, the audience downloading the ETTK has been just as varied: everyone from IBM customers, to researchers from various colleges and universities, to other companies' technologists, who are using the toolkit to determine whether they should go down the Web services road, Feller said.

The ETTK represents IBM's interpretation of the specs, and as developers use the toolkit, they may find that their implementations or interpretations are different, Feller said.

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