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WSDL 2.0 Crawls Toward the Finish Line

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5 years, 1 month, 17 days.

That's how long it's taken for the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) specification version 2.0 to become a proposed recommendation.

Like the tree that falls alone in the forest, will anyone be there to hear when WSDL 2.0 becomes an approved standard?

While an achievement of this caliber should be applauded, one can only wonder at the practicality of a process that takes more over five years to create the second version of a specification. What makes this amount of time even more troubling is the fact that Web 2.0 has seen the rise of Service Oriented Architectures and the proliferation of mashups — both of which depend on web services.

A group that will certainly welcome this news is that of the application server vendors, as they have long hung their hats on the currency of web services. If you listen closely, you can hear the paper shuffling as public relation departments BEA and IBM busily prepare announcements demonstrating support for WSDL 2.0.

While software developers should be excited by this development, the response from the development community will be uneasiness at best. If it takes over 5 years to update a specification, two conclusions can be drawn:

  1. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, causing the drawn-out approval process.
  2. The specification itself is so complicated that it took 5 years to create an updated version.

Despite a tendency to over-engineer simple solutions, software developers prefer simplicity over its alternative — and if one word describes WSDL and SOAP-based Web Services, it's complex. While SOAP-based web services have their uses, this complexity has also produced a group of developers who favor the simpler REST-based web service model.

With all this being said, one thing that developers can agree on is that standards are a good thing. Therefore, the maturation of the WSDL standard is a blessing for the web services of the future. The full specification can be found here and it is highly recommended for web service developers and insomniacs.

 
 
 
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