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Basic Web Services Workflow

There is a fundamental workflow involved with the description, discovery, and integration of Web services. Understanding this flow is important to appreciate the security concerns I will address later in the article.

Service Provider

  • Develops a service (usually a function/procedure or method that may link through several classes and components) in his own language and environment.

  • Develops a SOAP layer over and above the service, so that the service can be exposed to SOAP method calls across the Web. In other words, a simple service has become a "Web service."

  • Develops a WSDL file, which contains the details of the service, input/output parameters, and so on.

  • Publishes his service with a service directory system such as UDDI.

Service Consumer

  • Negotiates with the service provider to make use of his service.

  • Downloads the WSDL file from the service directory, and understands the details of service invocation.

  • Develops a client program that will make use of the service.

  • Develops a SOAP layer over the client program so that SOAP calls can be sent and received across the Web. In other words, a simple client has become a Web service client.

  • Invokes the service with a SOAP call, as and when required.

This entire flow is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1Figure 1 Web services workflow.

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