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Web services : building blocks for distributed systems
Glass G., Prentice Hall Press, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002. 247 pp.  Type: Book (9780130662569)
Date Reviewed: Jun 5 2002

Web services, a suite of protocols and formats that are in the process of being standardized, are a language-neutral mechanism for remote procedure calls, messaging, interface descriptions, and interface discovery. This book provides an overview and description of the basic concepts associated with the creation and consumption of these Web services.

The first chapter provides a very brief introduction to the general concepts behind Web services. A more detailed explanation, and a comparison between the current XML-based proposals and previously available technologies would have been desirable.

The next few chapters take the reader through a series of simple examples illustrating the main standards: SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. The book comes with a CD-ROM containing working code, and a system (GLUE, a product from the author’s company) for developing and deploying Web services. The presentation in these chapters is very Java-centric, which is ironic given that language neutrality is the main feature of these standards. A couple of chapters are then to devoted to developing Web services in other development environments, namely J2EE and Microsoft’s .NET. The basic concepts are presented in a straightforward way, with lots of examples and figures. It would have been better if the chapters had contained references.

The book closes with a chapter on the relation between peer-to-peer systems, Web services, and the brain. It is difficult to take this chapter seriously.

The cover of the book advertises it as a “definitive guide” to state-of-the-art Web services. The problem is that the state of the art is very rapidly evolving in this field. More up to date versions of much of the content of this book are available on the Web.

Over the last 18 months, various vendors and news organizations have been predicting that these standards will have an impact as profound as that of HTTP/HTML. In this context, a book that separates hype from reality would be very welcome. Unfortunately, this book does not serve that role. This is not a book for someone trying to understand why these standards might be significant, the implications of their widespread adoption, or why they might succeed where previous standards such as DCOM and IIOP did not catch on. On the other hand, if the reader is looking for a book containing a set of tutorials on creating and using Web services using Java, based on standards as of early 2002, this is a great book.

Reviewer:  Ramanathan Guha Review #: CR126127 (0208-0417)
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Online Information Services (H.3.5 )
Distributed Systems (C.2.4 )
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