Web Services: what is it, how does it work?

Web services allow different applications written in different programming languages to communicate with each other. Find out everything you need to know about it: definition, functioning, advantages…

Modern web applications are developed in different programming languages : Java, Net, Angular JS, Node.js… in fact, it can be difficult to ensure communication between these applications. This is the reason why we use “web services”.

Web services: what is it?

Web services provide a common platform allowing multiple applications developed with different programming languages. to communicate with each other.

A web service is a standardised medium allowing the communication of information.ommunication between client and server applications on the World Wide Web. This is a software module designed to perform certain tasks.

Web services: how does it work?

web services operation

Once invoked, a web service is able to provide its functionality to the client who invokes it. The client invokes a series of web service calls through requests sent to the server that hosts the service. These requests are made through of Remote Procedure Calls.

For example, Amazon offers a web service providing the prices for products sold online via Amazon.com. The front end or presentation layer can be in .Net or Java, but both programming languages will have the ability to communicate with the web service.

The main component of a web service is the data transferred between the client and the server. This data is in XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML is the counterpart of HTML. Simply put, it can be described as an intermediate language understood by most programming languages. Thus, applications communicate with each other in XML.

To send XML data between applications, web services use SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). The data sent from the web service to the application is called SOAP messages. It is simply a document in XML format.

Web services: what are the advantages?

web services benefits

In addition to allowing applications written in different programming languages to communicate with each other, web services offer other advantages. First of all, they allow access to functionalities via the internet. Indeed, the functionalities provided by the web service to a client application are invoked via the HTTP protocol. They can therefore be invoked via the Internet. At a time when all applications are connected to the Internet, web services have become much more useful than before.

In addition, web services allow interoperability between applications. They enable various applications to communicate with each other and share data and services. Thus, rather than having to write specific code that can only be understood by specific applications, it is possible to write generic code that can be understood by all applications.

Another advantage of web services is that they use a industry standard protocol for communication. The four layers (Service Transport, XML Messaging, Service Description and Service Discovery) use well-defined protocols.

Finally, web services make it possible to reduce communication costs. Since they use SOAP via the HTTP protocol, it is possible to use a low-cost internet connection to implement web services.

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