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Chapter 59: Web Services

Graham, Matthew J. (2008) Chapter 59: Web Services. In: The National Virtual Observatory: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Research. ASP Conference Series. Vol.382. Astronomical Society of the Pacific , San Francisco, CA, pp. 657-681. ISBN 978-1-58381-327-0. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20100730-094526909

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Abstract

Web services are a cornerstone of the distributed computing infrastructure that the VO is built upon yet to the newcomer, they can appear to be a black art. This perception is not helped by the miasma of technobabble that pervades the subject and the seemingly impenetrable high priesthood of actual users. In truth, however, there is nothing conceptually difficult about web services (unsurprisingly any complexities will lie in the implementation details) nor indeed anything particularly new. A web service is a piece of software available over a network with a formal description of how it is called and what it returns that a computer can understand. Note that entities such as web servers, ftp servers and database servers do not generally qualify as they lack the standardized description of their inputs and outputs. There are prior technologies, such as RMI, CORBA, and DCOM, that have employed a similar approach but the success of web services lies predominantly in its use of standardized XML to provide a language-neutral way for representing data. In fact, the standardization goes further as web services are traditionally (or as traditionally as five years will allow) tied to a specific set of technologies (WSDL and SOAP conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization). Alternative implementations are becoming increasingly common and we will cover some of these here. One important thing to remember in all of this, though, is that web services are meant for use by computers and not humans (unlike web pages) and this is why so much of it seems incomprehensible gobbledegook. In this chapter, we will start with an overview of the web services current in the VO and present a short guide on how to use and deploy a web service. We will then review the different approaches to web services, particularly REST and SOAP, and alternatives to XML as a data format. We will consider how web services can be formally described and discuss how advanced features such as security, state and asynchrony can be provided. Note that much of this material is not yet used in the VO but features heavily in IVOA discussions on advanced services and capabilities.


Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
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http://www.aspbooks.org/a/volumes/article_details/?paper_id=27986PublisherArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Graham, Matthew J.0000-0002-3168-0139
Additional Information:© 2008 Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Series Name:ASP Conference Series
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100730-094526909
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20100730-094526909
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:19226
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:02 Aug 2010 03:54
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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