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Microsoft, IBM, and BEA Will Improve Web Services With New XML Standards, Says W3C

XOP, MTOM, and RRSHB Are Born

In an i-Technology world already bursting with acronyms, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has just added three more, by publishing three new Web Services Recommendations: XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP), SOAP Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM), and Resource Representation SOAP Header Block (RRSHB).

These recommendations provides ways to efficiently package and transmit binary data included or referenced in a SOAP 1.2 message.

Web Services applications have the primary goal of sharing and using data between applications. This includes an increasingly diverse set of media formats and devices, including large schematics and other graphical files. Examples are as intricate as sharing architectural blueprints between multiple parties, or as simple as sending a photo from a digital camera directly to a printer.

One of the biggest technical and performance issues for Web services occurs when a user or application is handling large binary files. Encoding binary data as XML produces huge files, which absorbs bandwidth and measurably slows down applications. For some devices, it slows down so much that the performance is considered unacceptable.

W3C's XML Protocol Working Group has been looking at this issue almost from its inception, while it was developing the first SOAP standard, SOAP 1.2. The newest Recommendations published today work with SOAP 1.2 to address the specific issue of improving Web services performance by providing standard methods and mechanisms for transmitting large binary data.

"By enabling a more efficient way of serialize and transmit a SOAP message (XOP and MTOM), and by sending all the data needed to process the message, even when the data would not be readily available (RRSHB), Web Services have just become faster and more usable," explained Yves Lafon, W3C Team Contact for the XMLP Working Group.

XOP Allows Efficient Encoding of Binary Data in XML

XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP) provides a standard method for applications to include binary data, as is, along with an XML document in a package. As a result, applications need less space to store the data and less bandwidth to transmit it. XOP works at the XML Information Set (Infoset) level, allowing the same abstract representation of a XML document to be serialized in different ways.

MTOM implements XOP, makes SOAP 1.2 faster

The Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) uses the features provided by XOP to address SOAP messages. MTOM defines a "Transmission Optimization" feature that enables SOAP bindings to optimize the transmission and/or the wire format used to transfer a SOAP message. It also defines a concrete implementation of this feature, using HTTP and XOP to send the various binary parts as well as the SOAP message in a MIME envelope, reducing the bandwidth and the time used to encode/decode such data.

RRSHB Gives Applications a Local Short Cut to Resources

The third piece, the Resource Representation SOAP Header Block (RRSHB) functionality allows SOAP message recipients to access cached representations of external resources. This is important, as there may be times when there are either limits to bandwidth or access of files. It gives the recipient the option of using either the original file that may be identified by a URI, or to use a cached copy that accompanies the actual SOAP message. Used with MTOM, it enhance greatly the speed and of processing as the external data is already present when the recipient is starting processing the message.

More Stories By XML News Desk

The XML-Journal News Desk monitors the world of XML and SOA /Web services to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances and business trends, as well as new products and standards.

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Most Recent Comments
an00n 01/28/05 01:52:28 AM EST

As a software developer I find this particularly good.

While I myself would prefer to write a binary protocol and send the data through a TCP socket I can no longer do that.

When we land big contracts at work that deal in government and health the key thing they need now is interoperability with others. What does this mean? XML. Whether or not you like it, XML is here to stay. Its what everyone is pushing.

Therefore we had to adapt and start using it. Not just for B2B, our rich desktop clients now communicate with the server using XML web services.

The problem we've encountered is sending binary data. Right now we have to encode the data in base64 XML which uses lots of resources. I will give more look at this but it looks particularly good.

seanadams 01/28/05 01:51:33 AM EST

The tech industry seems really starved for ideas lately.

Binary file formats are hard.
Let's use XML because it's easier.
No wait... let's represent that XML in a more efficeint binary format.
Ah yeah that's the ticket - the best of both worlds!

Now let me just fire up my code-morphing processor which, through emulation ahieves x86 compatibility with "low" power consumption. Never mind it's slower overall and has worse MIPS/mW than an underclocked x86 - look Ma, we *inveted* something!!!!

There are some real technical problems out there... why are people chasing non-problems like XML?

Roguelazer 01/28/05 01:50:12 AM EST

The way I see it, XML's only benefit over something like SQL is that it -is- plain text and easily user modifiable. Binary XML seems to me more like a step backwards than a step fowards. Of course, I've never understood the buzzwordiness of XML anyway. Things like SOAP make it seem like a protocol when it's a format. I think that the W3C should be spending their time on XML implimentations like SVG, MathML and XHTML, not on things like this.

welcome move 01/27/05 08:59:39 AM EST

Web services apps need effective, standard methods for handling binary data - this is good news.

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