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Service Design Patterns: From Objects to Web Services

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In this chapter, you'll learn what services are and how web services address the shortcomings of their predecessors.
This chapter is from the book

Web services have been put into practical use for many years. In this time, developers and architects have encountered a number of recurring design challenges related to their usage. We have also learned that certain design approaches work better than others to solve certain problems. This book is for software developers and architects who are currently using web services or are thinking about using them. The goal is to acquaint you with some of the most common and fundamental web service design solutions and to help you determine when to use them. All of the concepts discussed here are derived from real-life lessons. Proven design solutions will also be demonstrated through code examples.

Service developers are confronted with a long list of questions.

  • How do you create a service API, what are the common API styles, and when should a particular style be used?
  • How can clients and services communicate, and what are the foundations for creating complex conversations in which multiple parties exchange data over extended periods of time?
  • What are the options for implementing service logic, and when should a particular approach be used?
  • How can clients become less coupled to the underlying systems used by a service?
  • How can information about a service be discovered?
  • How can generic functions like authentication, validation, caching, and logging be supported on the client or service?
  • What changes to a service cause clients to break?
  • What are the common ways to version a service?
  • How can services be designed to support the continuing evolution of business logic without forcing clients to constantly upgrade?

These are just a few of the questions that must be answered. This book will help you find solutions that are appropriate for your situation.

In this chapter, you'll learn what services are and how web services address the shortcomings of their predecessors.

What Are Web Services?

From a technical perspective, the term service has been used to refer to any software function that carries out a business task, provides access to files (e.g., text, documents, images, video, audio, etc.), or performs generic functions like authentication or logging. To these ends, a service may use automated workflow engines, objects belonging to a Domain Model [POEAA], commercial software packages, APIs of legacy applications, Message-Oriented Middleware (MOM), and, of course, databases. There are many ways to implement services. In fact, technologies as diverse as CORBA and DCOM, to the newer software frameworks developed for REST and SOAP/WSDL, can all be used to create services.

This book primarily focuses on how services can be used to share logical functions across different applications and to enable software that runs on disparate computing platforms to collaborate. A platform may be any combination of hardware, operating system (e.g., Linux, Windows, z/OS, Android, iOS), software framework (e.g., Java, .NET, Rails), and programming language. All of the services discussed in this book are assumed to execute outside of the client's process. The service's process may be located on the same machine as the client, but is usually found on another machine. While technologies like CORBA and DCOM can be used to create services, the focus of this book is on web services. Web services provide the means to integrate disparate systems and expose reusable business functions over HTTP. They either leverage HTTP as a simple transport over which data is carried (e.g., SOAP/WSDL services) or use it as a complete application protocol that defines the semantics for service behavior (e.g., RESTful services).

Web services were conceived in large part to address the shortcomings of distributed-object technologies. It is therefore helpful to review some history in order to appreciate the motivation for using web services.

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