Beating a Dead Horse?

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I know I’ve been dissing SOAP and WS-* quite a bit lately, but I can’t let this pass unnoticed.

If Richard Monson-Haefel of all people can’t easily use one of the leading toolkits to create a simple client for some of the most popular web services, how likely is it that the average programmer will be able to do a decent job? Keep in mind that the main selling point of these frameworks is that they are supposed to make it simple to use web services.

I think it’s time for the tool vendors to admit that this whole approach is a mistake. The idea of creating distributed applications by making RPC calls across the network, using code generators to hide all the details of network communications, has been around for over ten years. It sounds appealing at first, but we have had time to see how well it works in practice:

  • Fragile, hard-to-maintain applications.
  • That generally don’t scale well.
  • And usually won’t interoperate with other vendor’s frameworks.