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Understanding the Usage of Web Services

Kalmun Malvi
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I'm very new to the whole domain of web services, and frankly, only played with limited java technologies beyond the basic fundamentals, i.e. JDBC, Hibernate, Servlet, JSP (mostly on Tomcat), JAXP/XML parsers (DOM/SAX/StAX), know slightly about XSLT, XML Schema, XPath (SAXON), and have read a little bit on Spring and DI, et al.

As you can imagine, this whole web service business is a bit overwhelming as I have no real life experience with application components being looked at as services, or SOA in general. What I have gathered from my little search is that the web services are utilized as a "bus messaging" system for the needed information produced by one application to another, or a component to other components with almost full interoperability. Am I wrong about this?

My question is, let's say I have an application that aggregates, crunches users' data, and creates a recommendation engine for a social networking. Is it reasonable to create a "web service" of such system for other applications (whatever they are or how they will utilize such data) to fetch the recommended data stored as a model in the database? Is it a trivia job to create and offer such web services for almost any application in order to plug them into a larger eco-system where adopters, a.k.a. web services, create communication channels for these end applications?

What implementations for Java web services are available out there? Browsing the forum, I see nobody discusses Java CAPS? How relevant is Java CAPS to web services?

I think in order to truly understand web services, one must comprehend the SOA and reasons behind the need for them, then dive into the implementation. But unfortunately, in my case, I need a fusion of both in order to understand the whole thing, and most resources try to separate the conceptual topics and the actual implementation, and neither without either can fully convey the idea behind the bigger picture.
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