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Because Microsoft was involved early on in the development of the SOAP standard, its technology is light years ahead of much of the competition. The Web Service technology that comes with Microsoft’s .NET environment is easy to use, is intuitive, provides easy methods of documentation, and possesses several methods of discovery.
Perhaps the best part of the Microsoft implementation is that you don’t have to purchase Visual Studio.NET in order to implement or distribute this implementation. Microsoft has made the .NET Framework SDK™ available free from their Web site. This gives you command line compilers for C# and Visual Basic, along with the ability to create ASP.NET pages in either language. Many of the examples in this chapter show you how to use the .NET Framework SDK to compile code and the ASP.NET pages. Therefore, it is not necessary to own Visual Studio.NET to execute and compile the examples.
There is also the .NET Framework Redistributable™, which sets up a server or client to support the distribution of .NET tools. If you have experience with Java, the .NET Redistributable is very similar to the Java Runtime Environment™. The Redistributable sets up a machine to run .NET applications, ASP.NET Web pages, and Web Services, but does not support compilation.
This chapter covers many aspects of Web Services in .NET. These aspects include making a simple Web Service and then looking at the various consumers, including Web pages and applications. The prerequisites needed on your machine are also covered in this chapter.