In today's business scenario, the need for exchanging data over a network has increased significantly. A simple business solution involves huge amounts of data to be transferred. Consider the Web site http://www.wisdomjobs.com/ of the bookstore Some BookStore, Inc. The http://www.wisdomjobs.com/ Web site picks up data from the Web sites of each of its publishers. As a result, the data of the books published is stored in the data source of each publisher. This implies that data can be present in any format on computers running in different environments.
SomeBookStore, Inc. plans to integrate the data from each of its publishers. When a user searches for a book on the Web site of SomeBookStore, Inc., the site will match the search conditions with the data present on http://www.wisdomjobs.com/. However, integrating data that is present on remote computers is not an easy task. It requires you to create huge data sources on the servers of SomeBookStore, Inc., which, in turn, will prove to be expensive.
The situation could be worse if a publisher's Web site had firewalls for security purposes. As a result, it would be better if SomeBookStore, Inc. extracted data from the site of publishers instead of integrating data on their servers. This discovery led to a need for a standard protocol that could be used to extract data from an application present on a remote computer. As a result, SOAP was developed.
As discussed earlier, SOAP is the protocol that applications use to communicate in a distributed environment. This implies that SOAP can be used to request information on a network. Because SOAP uses XML, a request can be made from one computer to another computer running on a different operating system. The response of the request is sent back to the requesting application in the form of a SOAP message. Therefore, SOAP is considered a protocol based on the request-response format, as shown in Figure. You will learn about the SOAP package in the later section "Architecture of SOAP."
The SOAP Protocol
The following list discusses the advantages of SOAP:
In addition to the advantages of using SOAP, SOAP has certain limitations. The following list discusses the limitations of using SOAP with Web services.
When the request reaches the provider application, the application sends an acknowledgement to the requesting application. In addition, the data in the form of an XML message is passed to the requesting application. Therefore, the requesting application needs to parse the XML message by using XML parsers and then extract the required information from the data that is transferred. All this requires extensive coding at the developer's end. The process of transferring data by using SOAP is shown in Figure. You will learn about the processing of SOAP messages in the later section "Processing of SOAP Messages."
Process of Transferring Data using SOAP.
Despite the previously mentioned limitations, SOAP is a commonly used protocol for transferring data across applications.
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