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Re: [soap-newbies] Re: New Message: Comments on WSDL

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  • Dave Winer
    Forgive me for simplifying the argument -- at least I made one -- the WSDL advocates just snow everyone and it seems no one questions the wisdom of this
    Message 1 of 25 , Nov 5, 2001
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      Forgive me for simplifying the argument -- at least I made one -- the WSDL
      advocates just snow everyone and it seems no one questions the wisdom of
      this direction. You say you like scripting languages, so stand up for them.
      Good night Sam. Dave


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <rubys@...>
      To: <soap-newbies@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 7:54 PM
      Subject: [soap-newbies] Re: New Message: Comments on WSDL


      > Short answers first, then a more complete discussion.
      >
      > --- In soap-newbies@y..., "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> wrote:
      > > 1. Did you read the other messages in this thread?
      >
      > Yes.
      >
      > > 2. Is http://www.xmethods.net/sd/StockQuoteService.wsdl describing
      > > a Perl app?
      >
      > I don't know. But you will find a similar Perl app on
      >
      > http://aspn.activestate.com/ASPN/Reference/Products/PerlEx/WebService
      > s.html
      >
      > > 2. If so, how did the WSDL file get created?
      >
      > http://localhost/PerlEx/soap.plex?wsdl.
      >
      > > Dave
      >
      > Now for the more complete answers.
      >
      > (1) I was responding primarily to your original self described
      > rant. It states no significant support for WSDL is possible. I
      > view consuming WSDL as significant. If for no other reason, it
      > saves you from typing the parameter names in languages which do
      > positional parameter notation.
      >
      > (2) It is fair to point out that additional information is
      > required over and above what dynamic languages require in order
      > to interoperate successfully with less capable languages (it is no
      > secret that I'm a big fan of scripting languages). One could take
      > the position that that's the problem for the users of such
      > languages to each deal with separately.
      >
      > (3) All other things being equal, those environments which make it
      > easy for a larger set of clients to interoperate out of the box
      > will be advantaged over those that don't.
      >
      > - Sam
      >
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      > soap-newbies-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      >
      >
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
    • rubys@us.ibm.com
      ... I do more than say I like scripting languages: http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/aw.nsf/techbios/912318FCF05B7F1B8825676 700837E76
      Message 2 of 25 , Nov 5, 2001
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        --- In soap-newbies@y..., "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> wrote:
        >
        > Forgive me for simplifying the argument -- at least I made one --
        > the WSDL advocates just snow everyone and it seems no one
        > questions the wisdom of this direction. You say you like
        > scripting languages, so stand up for them.

        I do more than say I like scripting languages:

        http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/aw.nsf/techbios/912318FCF05B7F1B8825676
        700837E76
        http://www.php.net/credits.php
        http://www.mozilla.org/js/language/E262-3.pdf

        Shortly, you should also see an announcement from ActiveState.

        I am also a WSDL advocate.

        > Good night Sam. Dave

        I'm not done coding yet. ;-)

        - Sam
      • david@drumkit.net
        Isn t it ironic that Microsoft would produce WSDL with tight coupling as Dave describes after they did the variant data type in COM? Aren t tight coupling
        Message 3 of 25 , Nov 6, 2001
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          Isn't it ironic that Microsoft would produce WSDL with "tight
          coupling" as Dave describes after they did the variant data type in
          COM? Aren't tight coupling and strict typing the same here? I
          thought we learned the lessons about void * and variant years ago?
          When we have a choice, wouldn't we be better off to choose the high
          road?

          Isn't WSDL largely functioning the way query interface did in COM?
          By providing a way for programs to interrogate an interface at
          runtime, without human intervention?

          Isn't the idea with WSDL also to move the top layer client interface
          to a higher level? You can see this with the vbscript sample that I
          have here:

          http://www.watsondesign.org/gallery/windowsxp/aac

          The WSDL precludes _me_ from having to pack the XML myself and fire
          it down the wire or deal with any bizarre syntactical machinations.
          I thought moving these things up to that level would boost their
          adoption - particularly by the millions of VB programmers out there?
          I'm not one of them but I hacked this temperature sample together in
          about 10 minutes based on a nice article at MSDN and xmethods
          interface description.

          By the way, isn't VBScript a dynamic environment by Dave's
          definition? AFAIK, this is possible from any language that talks
          windows scripting host and COM. The example I present here is all
          completely built-in to windows xp, in a silimar fashion to the way
          any OSX user could do the same type of functionality out of the box.

          The commentary about doc is an interesting one. I don't believe that
          WSDL is good doc for the average coder either but product's like
          Glue from the Mind Electric provide a solution that precludes the
          server coder from needing to write mass quantities of his own doc
          (see the 4th screenshot down on this page, long URL - I'm sure it
          will wrap):

          http://www.themindelectric.com/products/glue/releases/GLUE-
          1.2/docs/glue/guide/console.html

          Finally, does PHP fit Dave's definition of a dynamic environment?

          This sure seems to handle WSDL rather nicely:

          http://dietrich.ganx4.com/soapx4/

          In the end, I've enjoyed working with XML-RPC and SOAP _and_ WSDL. I
          like WSDL for the ease with which my clients can interface with my
          server implementation. AFAIC, the higher the client layer gets, the
          better.

          -dave

          --- In soap-newbies@y..., "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> wrote:
          > No I wouldn't be happier -- sorry for being so difficult, but I
          have to keep
          > referring to item #6.
          >
          > "6. Philosophically this faceoff is directly comparable to the
          > tightly-coupled and managed hypertext environments that were
          theorized
          > before the loosely-coupled HTML-HTTP web came along, and wiped out
          all the
          > theories. SOAP alone, without the tight coupling promised by WSDL,
          is being
          > widely deployed, without Microsoft and IBM. This must irk them.
          But don't
          > thwart the spirit of the Web, it's still alive, in this venue."
          >
          > BTW, I tried doing an IDL [1] that could possibly work with dynamic
          > environments, and it was such a labor with so little love, I
          believe our
          > time is much better spent writing killer apps and worrying less
          about
          > synthetic hurdles that just postpone nirvana.
          >
          > Dave
          >
          > [1] http://www.xmlrpc.com/alidl
          >
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: "Doug Davis" <dug@u...>
          > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 10:54 AM
          > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          >
          >
          > > Ah, so its the static typing of data that you see
          > > as the real problem. So, if WSDL allowed you to
          > > specify a param (or return value) without specifying
          > > its type you'd be happier?
          > > -Dug
          > >
          > >
          > > "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> on 11/05/2001 01:49:50 PM
          > >
          > > Please respond to soap-newbies@y...
          > >
          > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > cc:
          > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > I don't know what it means for WSDL to be "too static" -- since
          you're
          > > saying that's what I think, I guess I'd better understand what
          you mean by
          > > that. ;->
          > >
          > > The problem is this -- in a dynamic environment, I can't
          automatically
          > > generate WSDL because while I may know the number of incoming
          params, I
          > > have
          > > no idea what their type is. Only the programmer knows. And the
          script may
          > > be
          > > able to handle lots of different types. Dynamic environments
          such as our
          > > Frontier have built-in type coercion. Same thing is true for
          return
          > values.
          > > Without forcing a new constraint on programmers, which I don't
          want to do,
          > > there's no way to know what the type of the return value is.
          > >
          > > So in order for WSDL to work in a dynamic environment as a
          server the
          > > programmer has to write some docs. I suppose you could write the
          docs in
          > > WSDL, but English works better for me, both as a writer and a
          reader. In
          > > all
          > > likelihood I have to write the docs anyway, so why not stop
          there.
          > >
          > > Somehow we, as an industry, got on this treadmill. Some people
          at IBM and
          > > Microsoft decided that WSDL is a requirement, and they've got a
          lot of
          > > other
          > > people echoing them without a clue what they're talking about.
          It's the
          > old
          > > tight-coupling vs loose-coupling thing again.
          > >
          > > Dave
          > >
          > >
          > > ----- Original Message -----
          > > From: "Doug Davis" <dug@u...>
          > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 10:41 AM
          > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > >
          > >
          > > > Well, sure that stuff can work but one of the benefits
          > > > of WSDL (or supposed benefits 8-) is that it makes it
          > > > easier to do this stuff programmatically. I don't see
          > > > how WSDL solves it yet - I still believe that a human
          > > > will need to be heavily involved in the process, but
          > > > I guess I always hoped that WSDL was just a step in the
          > > > process of coming up with the solution that will not
          > > > require a human. We're not there yet, and probably
          > > > not that close - but people are trying. Docs, samples
          > > > and mailing lists are a fall-back solution to me.
          > > >
          > > > It is interesting that you see WSDL as too static, but
          > > > Docs and samples are not. Seems like WSDL could change
          > > > just as often (and probably with less headaches) than
          > > > docs/samples.
          > > >
          > > > -Dug
          > > >
          > > > ps. Again - my opinions! 8-)
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> on 11/05/2001 01:31:19 PM
          > > >
          > > > Please respond to soap-newbies@y...
          > > >
          > > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > > cc:
          > > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > > >
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > Good question!
          > > >
          > > > 1. Docs.
          > > >
          > > > 2. Sample code.
          > > >
          > > > 3. A mail list.
          > > >
          > > > Now a philosophical question. Why do people ask this question
          so often.
          > > Is
          > > > it a mystery? Isn't this how it's always worked?
          > > >
          > > > Dave
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > ----- Original Message -----
          > > > From: "Doug Davis" <dug@u...>
          > > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > > Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 10:27 AM
          > > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > > Well, let's continue this then with the assumptions you've
          > > > > mentioned: everything is dynamic and it costs a lot to
          > > > > produce something static (like WSDL).
          > > > > If I'm a client and I want to talk to your getQuote service
          > > > > (ignore for a moment how I know you're even offering it),
          > > > > how do I know what to send? You're not going to provide me
          > > > > with something like WSDL (too static), so how do I know what
          > > > > parameters your getQuote takes? Or what headers you're
          > > > > expecting?
          > > > > -Dug
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > > "Dave Winer" <dave@u...> on 11/05/2001 12:47:13 PM
          > > > >
          > > > > Please respond to soap-newbies@y...
          > > > >
          > > > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > > > cc:
          > > > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > > Doug, please consider that I believe point 6 to be true (and
          perhaps
          > > the
          > > > > most important of the points). Therefore I'm not going to
          propose
          > > > something
          > > > > here -- because I believe that IDLs make a lot of
          exclusionary
          > > > assumptions
          > > > > about the kind of language and runtime environment a
          developer is
          > > using.
          > > > I
          > > > > don't happen to use an environment that can make good use of
          them, or
          > > > > generate them automatically, and I'm far from alone in that -
          - most
          > Web
          > > > > application environments are dynamic -- you don't know the
          types of
          > the
          > > > > parameters and can't without adding a lot of overhead for app
          > > developers.
          > > > > Java and .Net are different, they're static environments,
          more power
          > to
          > > > you
          > > > > if you like programming that way -- but I like to let the
          environment
          > > do
          > > > a
          > > > > lot of work for me in handing a type coercion. I'm not going
          back to
          > > > static
          > > > > environments. Dave
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > > ----- Original Message -----
          > > > > From: "Doug Davis" <dug@u...>
          > > > > To: <soap-newbies@y...>
          > > > > Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 9:07 AM
          > > > > Subject: Re: [soap-newbies] New Message: Comments on WSDL
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > > > (Speaking just for myself - ignore the mail address 8-)
          > > > > >
          > > > > > Dave wrote:
          > > > > > >It can only work in static environments such as Java
          and .Net and
          > > not
          > > > in
          > > > > > >dynamic environments that are popular with Web developers,
          > including
          > > > but
          > > > > > not
          > > > > > >limited to Perl, Python, PHP, and UserLand Frontier.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > If WSDL does not work in a particular use-case then propose
          > something
          > > > > > that will - if its good enough people (including IBM and
          MS) I'm
          > sure
          > > > > will
          > > > > > be interesting in playing too.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > >Today WSDL is not a basis for interop. If there is
          interop it's
          > only
          > > > > > >between Java and .Net.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > I don't believe the guys on SOAPBuilders would agree with
          this - I'm
          > > > > > pretty sure there are other SOAP processors joining in.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > >There can be no significant support for this by
          independent
          > > developers
          > > > > > >because it shuts them out.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > Whether or not it shuts people out is no indication of
          whether the
          > > > > > technology/ideas behind WSDL are good or not.
          > > > > > I'm no huge fan of WSDL - but it seems to fit a need - and
          I'm sure
          > > > when
          > > > > > (not "if" but "when") something else comes along if it is
          better
          > than
          > > > > WSDL
          > > > > > people will try to support it.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > >These companies want the endorsement of the W3C. They're
          trying to
          > > > > > redefine
          > > > > > >the rules so that only their products can satisfy them.
          This is a
          > > good
          > > > > > test of
          > > > > > >the W3C's independence from the big companies.
          > > > > > >Philosophically this faceoff is directly comparable to the
          > > > > tightly-coupled
          > > > > >
          > > > > > >and managed hypertext environments that were theorized
          before the
          > > > > > >loosely-coupled HTML-HTTP web came along, and wiped out
          all the
          > > > > theories.
          > > > > > SOAP
          > > > > > >alone, without the tight coupling promised by WSDL, is
          being widely
          > > > > > deployed,
          > > > > > >without Microsoft and IBM. This must irk them. But don't
          thwart the
          > > > > spirit
          > > > > > of
          > > > > > >the Web, it's still alive, in this venue.
          > > > > > >Tell Microsoft and IBM to go back to the drawing board.
          It's the
          > > right
          > > > > > >thing to do, maybe next time around they won't create
          such a
          > > > > self-serving
          > > > > > >specification that goes against the interests of
          independent
          > > > developers.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > So what's your proposal? Or, if you've offered one why is
          it not
          > > > > > taking off?
          > > > > >
          > > > > > -Dug
          > > > > >
          > > > > >
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          > > > > >
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        • delza@alliances.org
          OK, first off there s no technical reason why dynamic languages can t use WSDL (write and/or consume). I ve seen pointers to solutions for PHP and Perl,
          Message 4 of 25 , Nov 6, 2001
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            OK, first off there's no technical reason why dynamic languages can't
            use WSDL (write and/or consume). I've seen pointers to solutions for
            PHP and Perl, here's one for Python:

            http://www-105.ibm.com/developerworks/education.nsf/webservices-onlinecourse-bytitle/D092605075D1D67D86256A7E0042432D?OpenDocument

            Note, most (maybe all?) of these languages already have mappings for
            OMG IDL (CORBA). I know the Python mappings are pretty ugly, but they
            do exist and can be used with CORBA and other ORBs, which are
            significantly more hairy than WSDL.

            WSDL and UDDI are basically attempts to strap on the infrastructure
            that comes with CORBA. They're significantly easier to use than CORBA
            (from dynamic OR static languages), but there's nothing really new or
            earth-shattering about them (besides the Web Services(tm) meme...).
            People have been doing RPC in various flavors for a long time now, and
            XML can help with different aspects of that, which is cool.

            Now, whether you *need* WSDL or UDDI is a matter of what you're doing
            and what kind of tools you like to use. Like everything else in
            computing the correct answer is "it depends." They are tools in the
            toolbox and won't fit every problem. I'm not a big fan, but I know
            they're there if I have a problem which fits.

            A final point. Maybe Microsoft and IBM did create this in a smoke
            filled room. That's how a lot of XML specs are getting written these
            days. SAX was written by XML developers privy to the XML-DEV list
            without consulting any standards bodies. These things all have their
            place--if they're useful people will use them. Just don't believe the
            hype (which applies to pretty much everything).

            --Dethe
          • Alan Kent
            Some completely personal opinions on some of the points mentioned. I am not trying to be argumentative, but I am afraid I disagree with many of the points you
            Message 5 of 25 , Nov 6, 2001
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              Some completely personal opinions on some of the points mentioned.
              I am not trying to be argumentative, but I am afraid I disagree
              with many of the points you have made.

              > It can only work in static environments such as Java and .Net and not
              > in dynamic environments that are popular with Web developers, including
              > but not limited to Perl, Python, PHP, and UserLand Frontier.

              This one will always be a difficult area. There will always be
              data impedence when trying to get dynamically typed languages
              and non-dynamically typed languages working together. If you
              make it all dynamic, then supporting staticlly typed languages
              will be harder. Which is more important? Well, there is clearly
              no single correct answer to that one!

              I think you are trying to propose that instead of agreeing to the
              type of data items being sent. Personally I think this is a very
              bad model. It has the potential to greatly decrease interoperability.
              It requires both the client and server to implement exactly the
              same automatic type coercion rules or else undefined results may
              occur. Eg: think about how many date formats there are. If its
              sent as 1/2/01 from a US client to an Australian server, then
              the US end may say its M/D/Y where as the Australia server will
              say its D/M/Y. I think for interoperability its important that
              at the protocol level, values are sent through with correct types.
              Relying on the protocol to 'get it right' is dangerous when dealing
              with multiple language implementations.

              Note that the MS Soap toolkit dynamically loads a WSDL file from a
              site then allows dynamically typed VBScript to talk to the site.
              I have been using it without problem talking to a SOAP server I have
              been developing. So I think your claim that "it can only work in static
              environments" is incorrect. It may be that it works better in static
              environments, but it is already working today in dynamic environments.

              > Today WSDL is not a basis for interop. If there is interop it's only
              > between Java and .Net.

              Again, *I* belive this statement to be incorrect. There are many other
              SOAP implementor tool kits using WSDL files. There is even a group
              talking about doing some WSDL interoperability testing.

              > There can be no significant support for this by independent developers
              > because it shuts them out.

              Again, I am not sure exactly who you are talking about, but there
              are many SOAP implementors on the interop list who are using WSDL.
              Its certainly not only IBM and Java. My toolkit for example
              relies on WSDL files. I tried to do a purely dynamic approach,
              but it failed (it was early on mind you) because not all SOAP
              implementations sent adequate type information in the packets
              (it was optional).

              > Philosophically this faceoff is directly comparable to the
              > tightly-coupled and managed hypertext environments that were theorized
              > before the loosely-coupled HTML-HTTP web came along, and wiped out all
              > the theories.

              Again, I would have to disagree I am afraid. We develop large scale
              web sites for organisations. We are not a big company - we are actually
              a consulting group that is a part of a University.

              We find the biggest problem that most sites have had is the loosely
              coupled nature of HTML. The world is much better than it was here these
              days, but we always strongly recommend against using HTML as your
              native format for data where you have any reasonable sized site. We
              always recommend using some format that can be rigerously cross checked
              and managed. The loose nature of HTML is very bad for managing data.
              Its great for user interfaces, but bad for data management. We always
              recommend using some other rigourous, long-life mechanism for relating
              information (IDs etc) and dynamically form the URLs from that.

              So I am not sure what you mean by "wiped out all the theories". I agree
              that the initial mad rush for the web ignored all the theoretical
              background. However, I think most people developing large sites
              acknowledge that using loosely coupled URLs directly is not the way
              to go. It creates serious and real maintenance problems. So I would
              use the analogy in the exact oposite way. To avoid all the problems
              pepole have had with loosly coupled systmes such as HTML, put structure in from the beginning!

              > SOAP alone, without the tight coupling promised by WSDL,
              > is being widely deployed, without Microsoft and IBM. This must irk
              > them. But don't thwart the spirit of the Web, it's still alive, in this
              > venue.

              Out of curiosity, who is 'widely deploying SOAP'? Its hard to keep
              abreast of all the activities going on around the place. I am genuinely
              interested in who is 'widely deploying' it, and what toolkits are
              being used.

              Personally, I find WSDL files horrible. I find them confusing,
              difficult to understand, etc. However, the thing I like *is* the
              static nature. Its a contract between the client and the server
              about how to agree to communicate. You do not have to use a WSDL
              file - but the static nature of data types is extremely valuable
              as it stops all sorts of messy automatic data coercion problems
              (eg: you sent me a float but I expected an integer, should I
              round up or down or report an error?)

              Alan
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