My student, Tom Warne, has been working on a project we call LDDI for the last 9 months or so. LDDI is short for Lightweight Description, Discovery, and Integration. LDDI is briefly described in the short paper LDDI: Microformats for SOA Registries.
LDDI uses microformats and HTTP to achieve a usable registry service for SOA. The idea is quite simple, but also fairly powerful since it makes a human readable Web site into a machine readable registry service. Because it's based on XHTML and HTTP, it is browser and search engine friendly.
Tom has developed the microformats for WSDL and WSIL and built tools that demonstrate how they can be indexed, searched, discovered, and used within existing Web services frameworks like .Net and Java. His thesis will be done in the next few weeks. I hope to have a paper somewhere in between the 3 page document I linked above and the 100 page thesis in size in the near future and links to tools so that interested parties can try it for themselves.
Interestingly, Tom met some resistance to this idea from people in the microformats and REST communities. I guess the feeling was that "pure" technologies were being used in the service of something that was "wrong" or maybe even "evil." My feelings are more pragmatic than that. There are lots of smaller organizations that can't afford a UDDI registry and yet will need a way to record SOAP-based services. Why not use RESTful techniques in service of that very real need?
What's more, there's nothing in what Tom's done that is limited to SOAP-based services. This work also demonstrates that a functional registry of RESTful services could be developed as well--if there were a description language for RESTful services.
At any rate, I think Tom did a great job of demonstrating what can be done. There is much to be done.
- There are additional microformats that could be profitably included in the system.
- The whole idea of searching microformatted data is open.
- Registries are morphing into repositories, storing more and more metadata about services. What does this mean in the microformatted space?
- The entire system needs to be made "releasable" and usable so that other's can use and add to it.
If you're interested in seeing any of this work move forward, there are students who could use your support. Supporting a student is a sure fire way to see your agenda move forward for a small investment.