What are Web Services Used For?

With almost everything available on the Internet, such as weather, stock quotes, maps and news there comes a need for all this information to come together, to become organized and communicate with each other. With the rise of social media and mobile Internet, the necessity of the spread of information and interoperability has become more important. Through web services, various websites can communicate and share information with each other for the benefit of their users. Business software can share, extract and transmit information over the Internet even if the software was made or used by different companies.

For example,

For "AwesomeBusiness.net", a business-oriented website that delivers business articles and tips to live up to its potential, it needs to display up-to-date business information such as stock quotes straight from wall-street, foreign exchange rates, weather alerts and even flight information. To stay up-to-date, it must also be able to link to important news from trusted sources such as Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal. "AwesomeBusiness" must link up to those various websites that allow the distribution of their information for self-promotional purposes. These websites offer their web services for other sites that might need them.

Another popular example is for blogs or websites that promote themselves through social media. FoodForTots.org is a website for people looking for food recipes for children. It’s where people can share recipes and tips. For the website to gain more traffic, it makes use of web services provided by mainstream social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. The website has a Facebook Share button, a Twitter Tweet button and a Pinterest Pin-It button. These social media websites offer their web services in the form of APIs so that FoodForTots can display their buttons. Users of the website can reach a broader audience and the website gains traffic and the social media websites gain more content. 

Here is a more specific technical example of a web service:


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Web services are made up of various standardsprotocols and procedures that work together. Below are the technologies that make up web services.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) – it is the foundation of data communication for theWorld Wide Web. It is an application protocol used for distribution and collaboration between information systems over the Internet.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) – is a markup language that allows for data to be both human-readable and machine-readable. It is the data standard used for transmission between web services and their client web applications.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) – is a compact XML-based protocol for exchanging data between web services. It is used to encode information into XML format before the message is sent to a web service. The messages are then transported over HTTP or SMTP.

WSDL (Web Services Description Language) – as the acronym states is an interface definition language based on XML used to describe the functionality of a web service. It allows devices to read how web services can be called, its parameters and output data.

REST (Representational State Transfer) – is an architectural style which consists of constraints applied to components, connectors and data elements for a distributed hypermedia system such as web services. Web services for example need a URI which identifies the address of a resource, an Internet media type such as JSON or XML, a set ofHTTP methods, hypertext links to the process state and related resources. Web service APIs that adhere to REST are considered to be RESTful.