W3C Approves Web Services-Addressing Standard

Vendor support looks promising for the WS-Addressing specification, an interoperable standard for addressing Web services messages in heterogeneous environments.

The World Wide Web Consortium has approved the Web Services-Addressing specification as a standard.

The standards organization announced on May 9 that Web Services-Addressing 1.0—consisting of the core specification and the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) binding—is now a W3C Recommendation. That means the specification is now a standard, officials of the organization said.

The WS-Addressing specification is an interoperable standard for addressing Web services messages.

It provides a transport-neutral mechanism for addressing objects in Web services applications built on top of URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), W3C officials said. This new method is called an endpoint reference, or EPR.

"Web Services Addressing 1.0 provides a mechanism to developers on how to address objects for Web services applications," W3C Architecture Domain Leader Philippe Le Hégaret said in a statement. "It extends the capabilities of Web services by enabling asynchronous message exchanges, and allowing more than two services to interact."

Janet Daly, a spokesperson for the W3C, based in Cambridge, Mass., said, "In short, think of the functionalities provided by cookies, and improve upon those. Think of single sign-in. These are scenarios where WS-Addressing is designed to work."

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Daly said EPRs are targeted at specific issues such as dynamic generation and customization of service endpoint descriptions, referencing and description of specific service instances, and the flexible and dynamic exchange of endpoint information in tightly coupled environments.

WS-Addressing also introduces a way to specify the destination address, reply messages and faults in SOAP messages, W3C officials said.

"WS-Addressing is one of those bread-and-butter standards that helps to grease the skids of making Web services work in heterogeneous environments," said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink in Baltimore. "Its been part of the overall WS-* conversation for the past two to three years, so its good that its finally been ratified by the W3C. The question now is about vendor support of the standard.

"Weve seen support of the spec by many of the large vendors, but [are] not sure how many of the point-solution vendors of Web services and SOA [service-oriented architecture] products are currently supporting it. Now that its been approved by the W3C, hopefully well get as close to a majority of vendors supporting the spec as possible," Schmelzer said.

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Moreover, in addition to the core specification, the W3C WS-Addressing Working Group issued an accompanying recommendation known as "Web Services Addressing 1.0 - SOAP Binding." The SOAP binding provides instructions to developers interested in implementing WS-Addressing with either the W3C standard SOAP 1.2 or the earlier SOAP 1.1 version, and specifies security considerations, W3C officials said.

The participants in the working group include BEA Systems, BT Group, CA, Ericsson, Fujitsu Limited, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Iona Technologies, JBoss, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Oracle, Ricoh Company, SAP, Sonic Software, Sonoa Systems, Sun Microsystems, Systinet, TIBCO Software, WebMethods and WSO2.

Many of these companies have implemented or are planning to implement WS-Addressing 1.0 in their products, W3C officials said.

Andrew Layman, director of connected systems integration at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., indicated the companys support for the standard.

Layman said in a statement: "As co-authors and implementers of the original WS-Addressing submission in 2004, Microsoft has long viewed having a standard method of addressing messages as a fundamental extension to SOAP. … Microsoft will continue its support of WS-Addressing by implementing the W3C Recommendation in the next versions of its Web services-enabled products, including the forthcoming Windows Communication Foundation 1.0."

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