A Busy Developer's Guide to SOAP 1.1
Wednesday, April 4, 2001 by Dave Winer.
Last time I wrote, a week ago, we were working on a new document for busy developers who are interested in SOAP. It was a bet-hedge, to be sure that the kind of SOAP we do in our world would be understood by people in others. It ruffled a lot of feathers, but in the end I think most people involved in the process came to see it as a good thing.
The BDG is kind of a cookbook, written with one audience in mind, busy developers like ourselves, who love to build applications on the Internet, but already have a Day Job. We wrote this document, Jake Savin and myself, simply because we needed it, and in the spirit of the Web, of course we wanted to share it with everyone.
That there's a need for such a thing surprises some, considering that the S in SOAP stands for Simple. In fact, SOAP is simple, as this document shows, even though coaxing its simplicity from the myriad of related specs and RFCs requires a patience and dedication that most BDs don't have.
Now it's ready. If you've been confused about SOAP, or thought it was a big job to support it, get ready for this, it's not confusing, if you know a little XML and HTTP; it's not a big job. If you know a programmer who's interested in SOAP please point them at the BDG. There's a mail list and discussion group to help answer questions. We want everyone who wants to, to do SOAP.
It's been a hell of a week but it was worth it.
Last week at this time I was uncertain of SOAP interop, now I'm optimistic. It's been a fantastic week of negotiation and cooperation, with ups and downs for sure, lots of misunderstandings, but we seem to have gotten through it and arrived at the ending I was hoping for -- software running in widely different environments, some open source, some commercial, some from Microsoft, and all of it working together.
Wow. What an accomplishment.
Dan Anderson, commenting on my log of the ups and down of interop, named my tune perfectly. "While technologies such as SOAP require major players like IBM and Microsoft to foster their growth, there is a difference between riding in the car and being stuffed in the trunk."
Memorize that. That's the independent developer song. This is the argument we've been having with the BigCo's since (in my memory) IBM's TopView, OS/2 and PS/2, the Micro-Channel Architecture, through HyperCard, the browser wars and the Java wars.
This time around, BigCo's are welcome in the market, of course, but seduce us, tease us with your features, impress us with your performance, spoil us with distribution, but no more trunks, we're riding up front with you.
We're going to make products that surprise you and delight the users, and celebrate our freedom. We're going to do lots of apps that work together, and we'll switch environments when we want to, not when you say it's OK.
If you think the PC boom was something, or the Mac renaissance was beautiful, or Windows 3.0 was deep, you ain't seen nothing yet. Just kick back and let the lights come back on.
SOAP 1.1 is the contract. Honor the interop, keep your interfaces where we can see them, and let's have fun!
PS: This piece is sung to the tune of Riding With the King, by BB King and Eric Clapton. "On a mission of mercy to the new frontier." Oh yeah!