Windows developers may be put off by the lack of graphical tools. But the supplied APIs, demos, and documentation, as well as the browser-based application server administration, will give developers an opportunity to look at several new innovations occurring in Web services.
The WSTK offers a preview of several innovations taking place in Web services, including Apache Axis Alpha Release 3, which represents the rearchitecting of the original SOAP implementation code base. We found Axis to be fast, and it offers additional benefits such as transport independence, better WSDL (Web Services Description Language) abstraction from SOAP, a new XML-based deployment descriptor format, and closer alignment with the Microsoft SOAP implementation, all of which should help promote trouble-free development.
IBM has also fashioned an impressive first look at some pluggable utilities called Utility Services. The utilities offer the beginnings of Web services tracking and usage metering, billing, publish and subscribe event messaging, and the beginnings of an XML-based identity service.
Although far from comprehensive, Utility Services represent a step in the right direction for addressing some of the challenges still facing real world deployment of Web services.
Developers should avoid comparing WSTK 3.01 and the Early Access release of Sun's Web Services Developer Pack. Unlike the community process-driven development at Sun, WSTK components are primarily aligned with open-source efforts, many of which have been sponsored by IBM.
Furthermore, whereas Sun is laying the groundwork for the future of Java, the intent of the WSTK is to use that groundwork as a launchpad for future Web services advances. Sun's approach is structured, includes support for Solaris OS, and provides comprehensive documentation and tutorials. IBM's WSTK is still primarily experimental, and cannot be considered for a production environment.
But the price is right, and this type of advance look keeps your developers ahead of the curve in such a rapidly advancing paradigm. To that end, IBM's Web Services Toolkit succeeds wholly.