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A personal plea for peace and just a wee bit of patience (and I d o mean a wee bit)

From: Box, Don <dbox@develop.com>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 01:17:56 -0800
Message-ID: <824EAE80328AD311B2590090276267820AE314@INFOSERVER>
To: "'SOAP@discuss.develop.com'" <SOAP@discuss.develop.com>
Cc: "Tim O'Reilly (E-mail)" <tim@oreilly.com>, "'timbl@w3.org'" <timbl@w3.org>, "'tbray@textuality.com'" <tbray@textuality.com>, "'ken@bitsko.slc.ut.us'" <ken@bitsko.slc.ut.us>, "'dave@userland.com'" <dave@userland.com>, "'Daniel.Veillard@w3.org'" <Daniel.Veillard@w3.org>, "'connolly@w3.org'" <connolly@w3.org>, "'eric@w3.org'" <eric@w3.org>, "'xml-dist-app@w3.org'" <xml-dist-app@w3.org>, "Henrik Frystyk Nielsen (E-mail)" <henrikn@microsoft.com>, "Steve Vinoski (E-mail)" <vinoski@iona.com>
I spent the entire week at XTech and had an amazing experience. As many of
you know, there was a "BOF" of sorts thrown by the W3C on March 1. Three of
the five SOAP authors were there (GopalK, DaveW, and me). Several IBM-ers
were there. Several Sun and Netscape people were there. A lot of W3C folk
were there, including several members of the W3C Schemas WG. A lot of people
whose affiliations were not known to me were there as well. Here's my
summary of what happened (some of which came from the conference at large).

No one advocated taking a year or more to develop a new standard. The world
cannot and will not wait. A standardization effort that takes a year to
produce a stable artifact is irrelevant to most developers working in this

Everyone acknowledged the need for a standard in this area to avoid the
fracturing of XML and to get application protocols to stop reinventing the
wheel every time they need to send a compound type (e.g., a struct).

No one had concrete criticisms of the SOAP serialization format. That does
not mean it is perfect. However, it means that no one who has looked at the
spec has any credible technical show-stoppers that they are willing to share
in an open forum. 

Dave Winer felt XML-RPC was perfectly adequate (and on March 2 advocated the
world use it instead of SOAP). No one at the BOF seemed to agree, at least
no one verbalized their agreement. See Ken MacLeod's response to this at

Several people (although no one from DM or MS) advocated the W3C
rubber-stamping SOAP. 

I believe I made a compelling case for STOPPING the "messaging vs. RPC"
debate which has been beaten to death too many times here and elsewhere.

No one at the BOF made the argument that SOAP was MS-centric or
Windows-centric or COM-centric. Some people are concerned about the RPC-like
nature of the way the SOAP spec reads. The plan is to change that both
through modularization of the spec and a better choice of wording for
certain SOAP concepts. Look at my XML.com article on SOAP for more on this

Everyone seemed to agree that there is value in modularizing SOAP by
decoupling it from HTTP (in essence, turning the HTTP mapping into an
appendix or auxiliary spec). The authors knew this already and have been
working towards that prior to this BOF.

Several talks at the conference mentioned their use of SOAP. Most notably,
David Orchard from IBM has a working SOAP implementation.

I interpreted Jon Bosak's keynote the day before the BOF as making a great
case for why an infrastructure protocol like SOAP (or its functional
equivalent) should come from the W3C or IETF rather than OASIS and that
ebXML should then adopt it (and XML Schemas) as the substrate for defining
industry-specific XML interfaces. According to Bosak, W3C defines
infrastructure/platform and OASIS (the home of ebXML) is where application
standards get layered. This sounds very reasonable to me.

Tim Bray (co-editor of the XML 1.0 rec) attended the BOF and was a great
help and inspiration. He told of how XML 1.0 came in "low and fast under the
radar" and became a standard before every standards wonk in the industry got
a chance to rack up frequent flyer miles arguing over where the semi-colons
go. There seemed to be consensus around the room that now is a time for
another such effort.

After the meeting on March 1, I am actually very optimistic about things.
That stated, I ask for the support of the SOAP community at large to stop
bickering for a week or two while I (and others) try to plot a strategy that
gives everyone an open, platform/application/language-neutral solution we
all can live with in a time frame we can all live with. In particular,
unless you feel we need to wait several years or that we should bake in
dependencies on Visual Basic, your silence (on this list at least) will be
interpreted as a general agreement on the end-goal of a timely agreement on
a universally implementable XML-based protocol framework.

As many of you know, I've dedicated a lot of pro-bono time and energy since
rejoining SOAP last summer. I have no plans on stopping now, however, I ask
for a wee bit of support while I try to gently corral the entire industry
behind a unifying XML protocol. 

Received on Friday, 3 March 2000 04:12:01 UTC

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