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Jargon Buster

  • November 20, 2002
  • By Karl Moore
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SOAP is a complete new buzzword for most self-respecting nerds. They can't even justify its existence in the bathroom, never mind their hard disks.

Thankfully, we cool folk aren't in this category so can rise above the masses and look at exactly what this SOAP thing is all about.

If you've ever used DCOM, you'll know that it's one helluva cool tool. Basically COM on a longer wire. Well, SOAP is COM on an even longer wire.

It's a method of 'calling an object' and getting a result via the Internet.

As an example, imagine a happy, shiny customer with plenty of plastic in his pocket stopping by your site. He has a peek around and sees that pair of fluffy pink slippers he's been desperate for.

When he submits the order, your lil' computer may send a SOAP request through to Fluffy and Pink Inc, checking the availability of those gorgeous slippers. This information can then be returned to your customer all without him being aware that anything quite so hip even occurred.

The possibilities here are endless. This technology throws away the need for tightly-coupled DCOM applications but does currently hold a number of security concerns. Nevertheless, this is looking like one hot technology of the future.

With VB.NET, it'll apparently be easy to create a Web Service like this. But if you're not using Beta 1, it's unfortunately a little more difficult nevertheless, you can still get down and dirty with the SOAP Toolkit at msdn.microsoft.com/xml/general/soap1and2.asp

Incidentally, SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. Now wasn't that interesting.

Here's another amazing fact. SOAP is XML-based. And we'll be dealing with what that means, next...

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