W3C | Submissions

Comment on the "SOAP" submission

W3C is pleased to receive the SOAP submission from DevelopMentor, International Business Machine Corporation, Lotus Development Corporation, Microsoft, and UserLand Software.

SOAP is a lightweight protocol designed to issue remote calls, using XML as its encoding scheme. A SOAP message consist of three parts:

The SOAP envelope
The envelope defines the SOAP message, it contains some informations, like the encoding used. It may contain a SOAP header and must contain a SOAP body.
The SOAP header
The SOAP header may contain extra definition to be used to process the body. It defines also mandatory requirement and processing instruction for intermediaries
The SOAP body
It contains all the information needed by the recipient to process the request and generate a reply, or an error, the SOAP fault.

The SOAP fault is mainly used to report errors that can happen during the processing of the request, and a set of predefined fault codes is available.

The SOAP body contains encoded typed values, there are simple types, such as integers, strings, enumerations and more complex types, like compounds types such as structs or arrays. Those simple types are the one described in XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes. The values can be passed by value or by reference, using XML Linking

Some bindings are also provided to use SOAP within HTTP, using two different methods, with or without HTTP extensions (RFC 2774). Moreover, a recommendation about use of SOAP for RPC is provided.

SOAP is one of the existing protocols in the domain of XML based protocols. However its object serialization scheme needs to be more explicit, as in the architectural model of HTTP-NG, where inheritance or method description issues were addressed. Also we think that security considerations should have a central place in such a design, as it is always more difficult, if not impossible, to add security afterwards.

Next Steps

W3C is currently hosting a mailing list to discuss XML protocol requirements and compare several current protocols. We encourage participants to contribute requirements and use cases that will help scope XML protocol discussions.

W3C solicits input regarding what its role should be in the development of this area of work, in preparation for the May 2000 meeting of the W3C Advisory Committee. See the call for interest of 26 Feb which invites participation in this mailing list and in these three events:

BOF at XTech 2000, Feb 2000 in San Jose, CA
invitation 26 Feb, notes
BOF the 47th IETF, Mar 2000 in Adelaide
B2BXML agenda, blocks agenda
Session at WWW9, May 2000 in Amsterdam

The W3C Membership is invited to review the SOAP submission and advise on its disposition. Options include:

Disclaimer: Placing a Submission on a Working Group/Interest Group agenda does not imply endorsement by either the W3C Staff or the participants of the Working Group/Interest Group, nor does it guarantee that the Working Group/Interest Group will agree to take any specific action on a Submission.

Update (HH - 2003-06-18): In September 2000, W3C started the XML Protocol Working Group to address the area of XML-based protocols. This Working Group uses the technical solution offered by SOAP/1.1 as the basis for its work. Please refer to the Working Group charter and the Web Services Activity statement for details.

Yves Lafon, W3C lead for Jigsaw Activity <ylafon@w3.org>