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What is SOAP?

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SOAP, Simple Object Access Protocol is a communication protocol, a way to structure data before transmitting it, is based on XML standard. It is developed to allow communication between applications of different platforms and programming languages via internet.

It can use range of protocols such as HTTP, FTP, SMTP, Post office protocal 3(POP3) to carry documents.

Http-Get, Http-Post works with name/value pair which means transferring complex object is not possible with these protocols, whereas SOAP serializes complex structure, such as ASP.NET DataSets, complex arrays, custom types and XML nodes before transmitting and thus allows exchange of complex objects between applications.

Two components can easily communicate using Remote Procedure Calls protocol. But because of their compatibility and security issues, most of firewalls and proxy server block this type of messages. SOAP uses HTTP channel to transport which makes it widely accepted protocal over the internet.

SOAP and its purpose.

Simple Object Access Protocol is a XML based protocol that enables application to communicate with each other. SOAP has a standard format for sending messages. SOAP allows applications to communicate with each other over http, when different application running on different types of operating systems and using different technologies; SOAP can be used to enable communication between them.

A web service needs a combination of XML, HTTP and a protocol which is application-specific. A web service uses XML data for exchanging. The weather service, stock quote service, look up service of postal department are all sending XML messages and receiving an XML reply. This is the pattern that dominates the web services. To perform these web services, SOAP is the reliable protocol.

Examples where SOAP is used.

  • Different application running on different types of operating systems and using different technologies.
  • Example: To find company details, a SOAP request GetCompanyDetail() is sent to the server with the company id as the parameter. In response, details of company are returned via XML.

What are transport methods in SOAP?

  • Different application running on different types of operating systems and using different technologies.
  • Example: To find company details, a SOAP request GetCompanyDetail() is sent to the server with the company id as the parameter. In response, details of company are returned via XML.

What are the elements that should be contained in SOAP message?

  • Envelope – Translates the XML document to a SOAP message. It is the root element.
  • Header – Contains the header message. Contains the application specific information.
  • Body – Contains the call and response message.
  • Fault element – Used for communicating errors. If present, it appears as a child element of the body and can appear only once.

What are the elements that should be contained in SOAP message?

The following are contained in SOAP messages:

– Envelope Element: XML document identification and translation into a SOAP compatible message is done by this element.
– Header Element: The header message is available in his element
– Body Element: The call and response message is available in the body element.
– Fault Element: Errors occurred during the process is handled by fault element.

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