Web Services experiences surprisingly rare

Last week I spent one afternoon listening to Redmondian propaganda at the Microsoft Challenge event (sorry, the site is in Finnish only). The MSDN track was mostly web services – not particularly surprising when considering .NETs fundamentals and the whole Connected Systems hype.
My personal surprise came in when one of the speakers asked the audience about who had used web services for more than a trivial demo application. The result of a quick count was 30% – so that means we have 70% of people who still haven't seriously touched SOAP, WSDL and whatever WS related stuff. I was genuinely surprised – I mean, the event was aimed at ISVs developing for MS platform, mostly even MS Partners. While it would be exaggeration to say the developers in that room were the cream of the Finnish crop, it was a fairly professional bunch with considerable experience in various fields of software development. Microsoft has been pushing hard for web services for quite some time, and we're still seeing numbers like this.
Usually developers grab new technologies as their toys first. RSS is now passing that stage: while it still remains a hip thing to play with, it also has huge number of practical apps. In a few years RSS will be as mundane and pervasive as HTML is now. But despite the long history of SOAP, why isn't playing with web services cool? Despite the fact that basic web services are very easy to create on almost any net-capable platform, most people seem to circle around them. Open source projects rarely contain web service interfaces despite their potential (Bugzilla's lack of them pains me greatly, both in practice and in principle). People write their own blog engines, forum software, image galleries… Yet still, I very rarely see anything that would enable other systems to connect to this brand spanking new application. Hmm.
Is it because WS world is driven by capitalistic entities such as Microsoft, BEA and IBM? Or is it because the amount of WS-* standards is so baffling? Agreed, the hassle around modern web service enhancements has buried the fact that basic SOAP has worked quite well for years already. Stuff like StrikeIron's web services are a small but nice example of what can be easily done with WS.
But I believe in the toy-first propagation model. And despite the multi-billion efforts by huge enterprises, what the world needs is more stuff like QuotesService. Practically useless, but simple enough to give others a starting point.

October 2, 2004 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· No Comments
Posted in: Misc. programming

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