WASP Gives Web Services Development Some Sting


Although most of the Web services examples in tutorials and books are green-field developments -- that is, started from scratch with little or no concern for legacy systems -- that is not a likely scenario in most enterprises. When large organizations contemplate Web services, they are seeking more efficient interactions with customers or trading partners with whom they already have relationships.

Such relationships are often already cemented into place with some collection of IT resources. As a consequence, real-world Web service deployments can get messy and require a serious development effort. Getting the job done requires development tools, a cluster of run-time servers, and management tools to configure and operate the services once they're deployed. WASP Server and WASP Developer from Systinet do a nice job of providing these professional-grade tools for creating and deploying Web services in both Java and C++. [Full story at InfoWorld...]

I ran WASP inside Eclipse on my Powerbook and it functioned well, but was pretty memory intensive. I've 1G of memory and there was still some sluggishness. As I said in the article the Java based server ran under Java 1.4 on OS X with only a few script changes to account for Apple's non-standard directory structure. This is one complaint I've had with OS X, the special Apple directory names can be a pain for scripts. I use the find command a lot to find where Apple has hidden things.

I spent a fair amount of time going through the tutorials that are available on the Systinet site. WASP Server and WASP Developer are both complex tools with lots of options and features. Consequently, good documentation and tutorials are absolutely necessary for most people to get up to speed using the tools. There are a number of packaged tutorials and a nice collection of sample code on the site. While I appreciated all the documentation, I had a few issues in navigating and making use of it:

  • Systinet has multiple products and they can seem quite similar. We had some trouble separating out which tutorials went with which product.
  • The tutorials are all packaged with Ant build scripts. This makes it nice for running the examples, but to really understand the tutorial and learn how the tools work, you need to dig into the Ant scripts and dissect them. More comments in the build scripts and even alternate, by-hand build instructions would help out.
  • On the other hand, some of the sample code, although quite complex, didn?t have build scripts at all and so was difficult to use. This made experimenting with the sample code a high overhead effort.

In spite of these issues, the documentation and tutorials are comprehensive and serve as a good resource for getting started. There's a RSS aggregator demo on the site that I'd still like to get working at some point, but the lack of a build script made that a time consuming proposition.

As an aside, I was really trying to keep the "sting" pun out of any title on this article, but I guess it was just too tempting.