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This chapter's goal was to introduce you to the SOAP protocol. It began with a discussion regarding why the SOAP protocol is so important to the Web Service and the Internet as a whole. It also addressed some of the advantages that SOAP has over other proprietary protocols.

The chapter then described the SOAP XML object model and the SOAP Envelope, Header, and Body, and it described how these objects support RPC. It also mentioned that the SOAP Envelope encapsulates the (optional) Header and Body, that the Header conveys metadata that is orthogonal to the method or header fault information, and that the Body contains the serialized method information itself or body fault information.

Much of the chapter dealt with the serialization of data—how you transform binary information in the computer's memory into an XML format. We looked at serializing both simple and compound datatypes. Simple types include such things as integers, floating-point values, strings, enumerations, and dates and times. Compound values include structs and arrays.

Finally, the chapter discussed several of the .NET SOAP support classes and even provided a demonstration application program that managed to serialized a jagged array into a SOAP XML packet and that then stored it on disk for later recall.

The next chapter takes you through the next step. At this point, you've seen how the Web Service encodes the data for transmission, but how do you know where to send the information? What's out there that you can use? And when you discover what's available, how does that particular Web Service want the SOAP XML formatted? These and other burning questions are addressed by turning this page ....

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