Email to Markoff
Tuesday, May 1, 2001 by Dave Winer.
On April 9, John Markoff covered the work we've been doing in SOAP 1.1 interop, in the NY Times. There were bumps in the process, it got dramatic at times, Microsoft used their power, and I balanced it with some of my own, and then Markoff used some of his. Earlier this evening I sent an email to update him on where we're at. It occurred to me that I should update DaveNet readers as well. Here's a lightly edited copy of the email.
A couple of things.
1. We seem to have reached a plateau in SOAP 1.1 interop. This means that, while it's not possible to throw any random message at any server have it do something interesting with it, there is a way to use SOAP 1.1 to talk between all the implementations that participated in the process. (The same can be said of HTTP, I can't send any request to www.nytimes.com and have it necessarily return anything meaningful.)
2. Microsoft shipped their SOAP toolkit last week to Visual Studio developers that is the result of their interop work. We saw this as a signal to get a release of Radio and Frontier together with our result, and apparently the Apache Group (which includes IBM) is doing the same.
There you have it. Gorillas and small jungle animals participating to make love not war. Some growling and teeth-baring for sure, but we're all still here chuggin away. Well worth the time we put into it. My next priorities are more interop work, apps, and business development.
I had another thought for you not related to this milestone. During the week you were preparing your story you asked if I still believed that SOAP would be a level playing field. I expressed some doubt, but I may not, at the time have understood where the question was coming from. I don't think it's up to Microsoft to determine if SOAP is a level playing field. I think they have the power to kill SOAP, but given the group of people involved in SOAP interop, I don't think any of them will go along with a half-assed idea of interop. It may be a unique time in the software industry.
An analogy. I've always admired the Cubs' fans even though I'm a lifetime Mets fan. The fans have philosophies, even if the players and management don't. The Cubs fans sitting in the outfield bleachers have a tradition of throwing the ball back on the field when an opposing team hits a home run as if to say "We can't be bothered with this right now, let us know when you have something important to say." A SOAP captured by Microsoft would be denounced in an instant, in a similar way.
PS: We're putting together a press release and quote sheet for this milestone, if you have a comment you'd like to share, just respond to this email. Please include your title and affiliation. Thanks!