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RE: Stranger in a Strange Land

From: Jim Webber <jim.webber@arjuna.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 09:21:26 +0100
To: "'Burdett, David'" <david.burdett@commerceone.com>, "'Cutler, Roger \(RogerCutler\)'" <RogerCutler@ChevronTexaco.com>, <www-ws-arch@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003201c304ba$578f67b0$880a090a@kyle>
Roger, David:
In addition to these points, I would add that there is already a set of
actors and roles (i.e. useful, active things that we don't want to reinvent)
that understand SOAP envelopes - the idea of just throwing that away is

-----Original Message-----
From: www-ws-arch-request@w3.org [mailto:www-ws-arch-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Burdett, David
Sent: 17 April 2003 01:54
To: 'Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)'; www-ws-arch@w3.org
Subject: RE: Stranger in a Strange Land

I can't resist replying to this, and I will probably regret doing it, but
here goes ...
Let's start with a question ... why does the USPS like envelopes with
addresses on them in a standard place.
The answer (I guess) is so that they can more easily offer a lower cost
postal delivery service to anyone who complies with their envelope standard.
If there was no standard envelope format, then they would have to do more
work which would cost more - it's the usual "standards lead to lower costs"
Let's also face it we have envelopes already on the web, e.g. for HTTP and
SMTP, people find them useful but they only contain an address (e.g. a URL)
and not much else.
So perhaps the real question is what reason is there to use a SOAP envelope
over and above their simpler HTTP or SMTP equivalents?
I think there is only one reason and its the same reason as for the USPS,
i.e. it enables (or perhaps more accurately will enable) a lower cost
delivery service for electronic message.
Time for another a question. Why do FedEx and UPS exist and why can't they
just use the same envelope as the USPS or no envelope at all.
Again the answer is that for FedEx and UPS exist because they offer
additional services at a reasonable cost. They each have standard envelopes
as they need additional information and putting that information on the
envelope in a standard way makes it easier for them to offer the additional
services at a lower cost - just like the USPS
So what things could go in the SOAP envelope that allows additional
value-added services to be provided at lower cost through the use of
standard infrastructure. The list I can think of includes:
1. Security - you can put a digital signature in there to secure the whole
2. Reliable Delivery, you can use the headers for a RM protocol in there so
that the application need not be bothered to do the same
3. Conversation tracking. By using ids on a conversation you can have
standard software that routes where a message goes to when it is received -
again the application need not bother
4. Choreogrphy checking, so that you can check that the sequence of messages
in a business transaction are being followed correctly.
OK you don't have to use SOAP for this, but it exists and, I think, meets
the needs described above quite nicely so why bother inventing anything
Right now we are designing: a) the equivalent of the FedEx and the UPS
enevelopes, and b) the infrastructure required to use them for a good
But I can *exactly* see why people say, I don't need envelopes now, since
the infrastructure hasn't been built out so the value is not there for
people to see and use.
... but I bet that when it is built out, people will use it because it
provides value, for exactly the same reasons that people use FedEx and UPS
and their standardized envelope formats today.
My $0.02c

-----Original Message-----
From: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler) [mailto:RogerCutler@ChevronTexaco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 4:54 PM
To: www-ws-arch@w3.org
Subject: Stranger in a Strange Land

Once again I feel like I am torn between different universes.  It would be a
lot easier for me, and certainly more comfortable, if I spent my all my time
in a single environment where everyone comfortably accepts the same
assumptions and values.

OK, let's be more specific.  I have learned that a company which I think is
much larger than any represented in the W3C has forced another company that
I think is larger than any in the W3C to accept XML payloads (lots of them)
totally without envelopes.  "I don't need no stinking SOAP".  Moreover, I
find that many small to medium sized companies are objecting to the expense
of creating envelopes that they feel do not benefit them, and also wish to
send bare XML payloads.  A very large company which has implemented an XXXX
standard with envelopes (which we have also implemented) has subsequently
implemented an XXXX-lite -- which is just the body without any envelope
whatsoever.  Signing and so on, of course, are possible in this scenario.
Again, "We don't need no stinkin SOAP".

I find also that a company that is trying to make a business out of
collecting and routing business transactions has found itself under
increasing pressure from the market and its clients not to use envelopes.
They think that envelopes are very good things -- but they are moving toward
offering services that are envolope-free.

So I ask, "What is the benefit of the envelopes"?  I ask people in my
company who have implemented a business transaction project including
envelopes and they tell me that envelopes are very good and very forward
looking -- they should be very useful for creating supply chain processes
and keeping track of what transactions have occurred, not to mention dealing
with complex routing situations -- but in fact they have not really done
very much with the envelopes.  Well, exactly what HAVE they done?  Well,
they have made them and received them.  And I infer that they have felt
virtuous in the process.  Well, maybe they have looked at some statistics
based on the envelopes from the middleware a few times, and they feel good
that they have been able to purchase middleware products based on the
envelopes.  Perhaps this has saved development effort.

I ask other people what the benefit is of envelopes, and I receive no answer
that indicates to me any benefit whatsoever to a small to medium sized
company that does not have elaborate and expensive middleware systems.
Envelopes seem to make it easy for expensive middleware in big companies to
keep track of things (although as far as I can tell most of the big
companies are not really exploiting this for much) -- but for the little
guys they appear to be pretty much something that is being forced on them by
the big guys.

Except that the biggest of the big guys seems to be saying that they don't
need no stinkin envelopes. 

I think there is something wrong here, folks.  It seems to me that we may be
seeing the beginnings of a market rebellion.  It would really, really be
helpful to me if someone could remind me why envolopes are so great.  I sort
of have forgotten, as has everyone else I have been talking to around here.
Just about everybody seems to agree that they are absolutely necessary --
but they all seem to have forgotten exactly why.

I don't have a good feeling about this, folks. 
Received on Thursday, 17 April 2003 04:34:36 UTC

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