[OAI-implementers] SOAP-PMH

Martijn Faassen faassen at infrae.com
Wed Dec 8 08:53:22 EST 2004

Matthew Cockerill wrote:
> SOAP isn't by any means all about search interfaces - it's designed to  
> be used for any web service.
>  Remote search is one important kind of service  
> [http://www.loc.gov/z3950/agency/zing/srw/ ], metadata harvesting is  
> another, 'what's the weather' is another, stock prices are another,  
> customer contact management is another  
> [http://www.sforce.com/resources/api.jsp] , mailing list management is  
> another  
> [http://www.lyris.com/products/listmanager/beta_news.html?s=sdbr ], the  
> NCBI eutilities are another  
> [http://eutils.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query/static/esoap_help.html ]
> The fundamental point of SOAP is well expressed in the comment:
>>> "With a SOAP
>>> interface, it would be fairly easy to build a harvester for
>>> our search engine. It would be a very nice sample program for our
>>> indexing interface. But with a one-of-a-kind XML protocol, it isn't
>>> worth the trouble.
>>> "
> This is precisely the benefit of SOAP - it lowers the amount of 'one of  
> a kind' work that an implementor has to do. And as a result it  
> *dramatically* increases the chance that people outside the direct  
> target area for the OAI protocol will actually use it.

I disagree that it'd be dramatically easier. I think it's overestimating 
the complexity of OAI-PMH, and underestimating the complexity of SOAP.

If I had to implement the oaiphm.py module using SOAP I'd have to find 
an up to date, functional SOAP implementation in Python. Is there one 
there that's kept up to date? I've heard mixed reports. XML parsers and 
http libraries are however available everywhere.

Debugging in case something went wrong would've been a lot harder, due 
to the added layers. Performance would quite possibly also go down, due 
to the added layers. I'd need to learn SOAP *and* the OAI-PMH model; now 
I just needed to learn the OAI-PMH model.

I've heard Python/XML people say SOAP is past the hill concerning buzz, 
and that they just don't run into it.


This is an analysis of what went wrong (and right) with adding SOAP 
support to a Perl based CMS:


> Migrating OAI to use SOAP as its transport does seem long overdue...

Disagreed from one implementer, at least. Having to work with SOAP 
would've made this developer less happy...



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