Working with Web Services in .NET
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by Joydip Kanjilal
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What is SOAP?

It should be noted that as SOAP is a XML-based protocol; and as it is a text based, XML based protocol, it allows data exchange even through the firewalls. As Web Services rely on SOAP to provide its services to its consumers via HTTP protocol, a XML Web Service can be consumed by any application irrespective of its architecture. SOAP has been officially defined by the W3C group (http://www.w3.org/TR/SOAP) as a protocol that "provides a simple and lightweight mechanism for exchanging structured and strongly-typed data between peers in a decentralized, distributed environment using XML. SOAP does not itself define any application semantics such as a programming model or implementation specific semantics; rather it defines a simple mechanism for expressing application semantics by providing a modular packaging model and mechanisms for encoding application defined data. This allows SOAP to be used for a large variety of purposes ranging from messaging systems to Remote Procedure Call (RPC) invocations."

A SOAP message is composed of:

·         An envelope that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process it

·         A set of rules for how to handle different data types

·         A convention for representing remote procedure calls

The following is an empty SOAP message that has a root
envelope element and its two child elements, header and body:

Listing 1

<Envelope>
<Header>
This is the optional part of a SOAP message that
 contains the information on what the message contains and how it can be
 processed
</Header>
<Body>
This is a mandatory part of the SOAP message
 and contains data in XML format that is needed to access the interfaces of a
 specific object
</Body>
</Envelope>

Please refer to my article An Introduction to Simple Object Access Protocol for more information on the SOAP protocol.


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