Fast Takes
Thursday, May 05, 2005
the simplest thing that can possibly work
Quoderat Problem-first design - great POV and quote
Service Descriptions - There does not need to be just one

There has been some really good analysis and thinking about service description languages recently by several smart people (Tim Bray:SMEX-D, Norm Walsh:NSDL, Mark Nottingham). Everyone of them makes some excellent suggestions and brings a unique POV. One of the challenges that everyone is assuming is that there needs to be only one service description language. I challenge this assumption and suggest that more than one is actually preferably. The are a few reasons for wishing there should only be one service description language:

One of the really good aspects of the service description languages described by Tim Bray, Norm Walsh is that they use the same vocabulary as the transport i.e. HTTP -this makes it a lot easier to understand as it does not add another layer of verbal indirection. This reduces the learning curve and hopefully the ambiguity. Having several service description languages is not an issue if they are all in xml they can be transformed from one to another easily. As the transformation is a design time dependency and not runtime a runtime one there is no performance penalty. The major issue may be loss of meaning but there are only a limited set of MEP's so this should not be a long term issue.

The tendency today for web services is to add more features and hence the complexity is increasing. Shift the focus to how simple they can be and reduce complexity, lets see how easy it can really be.

The focus must be on the communication of information and not overly abstracting the service descriptions to a point where everyone just gives up and writes word documents.

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