devX has a handy reference on various WS-* standards, what they're good for, and when to use them. The article starts out:
The alphabet soup of WS-* is difficult to master and yet, very essential for the immediate future. Here's our pocket guide to the basics of the 12 most important WS standards and in what situations they apply, for both .NET and Java.From Pocket This Decoder for WS-Alphabet Soup
Referenced Wed Jun 15 2005 20:41:43 GMT-0600 (MDT)
I disagree. I think these standards are more like TCP/IP in the sense that plenty of people write usable, even great, networking applications without being experts in TCP/IP. In most cases, even a cursory understanding of application level protocols like HTTP is all that's needed.
The same things true, for the most part, of the WS-* standards and I think the focus on them tends to scare people off. There are people who need to understand them, just as there are people who need to understand the intricacies of TCP/IP, but if all you want to do is secure a SOAP interface, you can buy tools that layer WS-Security on top of your interface without you needed to know how to parse it.