Can Web Services Improve the Standardization Process?

Steve Vinoski (chief engineer of Iona) has an article on Web Services Standardization in the December 2004 edition of IEEE Computing. The article is another discussion about the apparent complexity of the advanced web services specifications. While he writes about complexity, he also claims that lack of standardization is a real problem that is damaging the industry. While I agree that standardization is important, the evidence he cites overlooks (and potentially obscures) a couple of points:

· Standardization does not guarantee high-quality specs or the adoption of said specs. . While I agree standardization is generally a Good Thing, the results of the process are not always favorable. For example, people have been arguing over XML Schema (XSD) for well over four years and it looks like things aren't going to improve anytime soon. The actual process of standardization can also be a problem, with some organizations enabling any three drunks in a bar to propose a new standards effort, regardless of industry need or interest levels.

· Better strategies for standardization are emerging. The web services Workshops have been used to develop, test and evolve web services specifications prior to submitting them to a standards organization. This process is designed to accelerate the time that a specification is approved by a standards organization. The web services Workshops mirror the approach used by SOAP Builders prior to submission of that spec to the W3C. (Contrary to some opinions, all of the advanced web services specifications will eventually be submitted to one standards organization or another.

While Steve mentions the web services Workshops, he mistakenly assumes they are private. The web services Workshops are open to anyone interested in participating. So how can you get involved? Bookmark the Web Services Workshops page and check back often (even better, set a reminder so you receive updates when the page changes).

BTW, for those of you still trying to understand the stack of specs, Chris Kurt and Felipe Cabrera posted an excellent guide to MSDN. Start with the guide before reading any of the specs.