Sunday, April 29, 2007

The WS-Star is still growing - new standards for Context and Notification

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Happy days - yet another WS-* standard has come out of the Oasis Standard Factory.

In a press release from the 25. april the happy news is that WS-Context has become an Oasis standard. Uhmm, well I haven't heard of it before, but I guess it's better with standards than drafts. The work has been done in the OASIS Web Services Composite Application Framework (WS-CAF) TC, but what is it there doing, let's see the charter. The top piecs is:

The purpose of the OASIS Web Services Composite Application Framework TC is to define a generic and open framework for applications that contain multiple services used in combination (composite applications).

Multiple web services combined in composite applications require interoperable mechanisms to set the boundaries of an activity (such as start/end, or success/failure), to create, access and manage context information, and to inform participants of changes to an activity. Composite applications might also need to work with a range of transaction models, including simple activity scoping, single and two phase commit ACID transactions, and recoverable long running activities.

Yuep, real nice, real abstract and sounds like something similar in other specs - do these Oasis Comittees really coordinate? Following the charter they should:

Interoperability, ease of implementation, and ease of use will be fundamental characteristics for WS-CAF. The TC's work should build upon similar, existing standards wherever possible and to align where appropriate with other relevant standards. Alignment means any of the following: feature reuse, bindings, guidelines on how to jointly use the specification with other related ones, or addressing requirements from other related standards.

It's not all that clear how they feel about work in progress and close to final work versus final standards, but I'll hope. As for the need I'm not near clever enough to evaluate that. But I can see that if things haven't changed since the charter was written, there are more WS-* spec's on it's way:

List of Deliverables

  • A revised WS-Context specification. Draft due within 6 months of first meeting.
  • A revised WS-Coordination Framework specification. Draft Due within 10 months of first meeting.
  • A revised WS-Transaction Management specification. Draft due within 14 months of first meeting.
  • A primer introducing the above specifications, including use cases and scenarios as appropriate.

Of all these artifacts I'm longing for the primer the most. The initial drafts were contributed by: Arjuna, Fujitsu, Iona, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems. I'm missing IBM and Microsoft, and doesn't this have a resemblance with what happened to the original WSRM ( I believe that Oracle and Sun were on that first TC). This could mean that either they think:

  • that these guys will do it right without involvement
  • that the area of work is not important
  • that they have something similar going that they'll fight over later on

Time will tell, but any ways the approved standard for WS-Context is fairly small but that's all I know for now. A quick look at the Apache Web Services project does not show any projects working on WS-Context, which I'll take as a sign that it's not that important and for sure that I'll no be able to use it with the Apache stack for some time.