Tim Bray worries about WS-*

Tim and others are starting to worry that WS-* is getting out of control:

No matter how hard I try, I still think the WS-* stack is bloated, opaque, and insanely complex. I think it’s going to be hard to understand, hard to implement, hard to interoperate, and hard to secure

Now I want to make it clear that I am no expert on this, but I have followed the debate.  It seems to be that the reason that this stuff is getting so complex is so that developers don’t have to worry about it.  What the heck do I mean by that; well I mean that these spec’s are not meant to be implemented by developers, they will be implemented by the tools and libraries that the developers use.  At least that’s the impression I get when Don Box talks about Indigo.  I think he said something like, “I spent the last n years, before I joined Microsoft,  worrying about the plumbing”, then he said something like “Since I joined Microsoft I am working to make all that knowledge about the plumbing completely irrelevant”. 

My guess is that without a complete and comprehensive set of specifications, the tools can not do their work, there’s still too many decisions for developers to make in order to guarantee that particular transaction types are reliable and interoperable.

Tim makes a point:

I look at Google and Amazon and EBay and Salesforce and see them doing tens of millions of transactions a day involving pumping XML back and forth over HTTP, and I can’t help noticing that they don’t seem to need much WS-apparatus.

of course he’s right, but Amazon and EBay employ a whole load of developers who had to make a whole load of decisions and write a whole load of code that developers who use Indigo just won’t need to worry about.

I also suspect that the ambitions of the people developing infrastructure like Indigo, that depends on WS-* have ambitions way beyond those that most developers creating home grown XML over HTTP solutions have today.

A quick note to end on, Indigo is not the only WS-* Infrastructure, its just the first one that came to mind, that’s Microsoft marketing for you 🙂

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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