I was surprised to see an old rant of mine quoted in Dr. Dobb’s Python-URL. Of late I’ve simply ceased to think about SOAP. It has become an irrelevance. I rarely come across SOAP in my sojourns. I’m not sure whether this is just bias coloring experience.
I had two recent run-ins with SOAP late last year: one while using Java and one while using Python. The state of Python’s SOAP implementations seemed a complete mess because of neglect. The state of Java’s SOAP implementations seemed a complete mess for a near-opposite reason: energetic conformance to the many SOAP flavors. This slavishness to SOAP’s worst aspects makes it impossible to figure out how to portably work with rich data using SOAP. If you’re not sticking to Java’s primitive data types (in particular, if you’re thinking of your data in XML terms), there is no chance these libraries will fit your head.
But putting the misery of these experiences aside, I’m surprised at how little I’ve had to worry about SOAP. As it became clear to me that Web Services were becoming a menace to much of the goodness wrought by XML, I worried that I would be forced to do a lot of gritting my teeth at work while I accommodated clients’ insistence on WS. This hasn’t turned out to be the case. In several cases where WS “end points” have been suggested, I’ve been surprised at how easily my suggestions of a REST-like alternative are embraced (the fact that I could usually whip up running code in hours helped a lot).
In the comments to part 2 of my Web Services chronicle (see also part 1), Mark Baker challenges me to substantiate my statement “Web services have found critical mass greater than any other distributed computing technology before them.” I made that statement based on observations at that time when it seemed WS was everywhere. Strangely enough, it is soon after that article that I stopped seeing signs of WS dominance. And as I think back on the matter, it was a rather precipitous decline.
So has WS and its SOAP center truly begun to melt away, or is that just the order I’ve imposed on my corner of the Universe? Of course in my superstition I worry that now that I’ve mused about it, I’ll be punished by a SOAP development request from a client in the near future. Time to stock up on shamrocks.
Do Web services still loom large in your world?