Protocols keep Web services messages in line

Protocols keep Web services messages in line

Agencies planning to automate Web services transactions with their suppliers and the public can build in reliability with new protocols, speakers said yesterday at the XML 2004 conference in Washington.

The international Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards this month ratified WS-Reliability 1.1, a protocol for exchanging Web services' Simple Object Access Protocol messages across networks.

A similar protocol, WS-ReliableMessaging, is proprietary to BEA Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Tibco Software Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.

The protocols guarantee delivery of machine-to-machine messages in the correct order and without duplication, said Tony Graham, a staff engineer with Sun Microsystems' Ireland subsidiary.

Those guarantees would prevent, for example, erroneous double-debiting in a monetary transaction if the payment-received message got dropped while crossing different networks.

'Every message gets an acknowledgment' under the reliability protocols, Graham said. If machine-to-machine exchanges go on too long, the sender and receiver sites are notified. 'The standard tells how to specify that a timeout has happened,' he said.

For more information about WS-Reliability, see For information about so-called choreography of processes for Web services, see


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