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The Apache Group provides a free SOAP library, Apache SOAP Version 2.3, to allow you to create and deploy Web Services across multiple platforms because it utilizes Java as the underlying language. This is an advantage if you have an environment containing a mix of operating systems because Java works on many platforms.
The main differences between Apache SOAP and the Web Services found in the .NET environment includes ease of use and installation. Microsoft’s installation of either the .NET Framework SDK or Visual Studio.NET is seamless. You install it and you’re ready to begin, and the code is at a very high level.
With Apache SOAP, the installation is far more complex. It is not difficult, but you must pay close attention to the installation instructions. If you miss one step or you don’t have the environment set up right, you will find the installation of Apache SOAP to be somewhat frustrating.
The other difference is that coding for both creating a Web Service and calling a service happens at a lower level where you are more aware of the XML being used in the SOAP requests. Microsoft hides many of these implementation details from you.
This chapter covers how to create a simple Web Service with Apache SOAP and then create several different consumers ranging from command line clients to Java Server Pages (JSP). This chapter begins by covering the prerequisites your system needs to utilize Apache SOAP.
The examples in this chapter are based on using Apache SOAP Version 2.3. The latest release of Web Services software from the Apache Group is called Axis and it is a complete rewrite of the Apache SOAP library. Both are currently available from the Apache Group’s Web site at xml.apache.org. Chapter 8 provides an introduction to Apache Axis and explains how it differs from the SOAP library.