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O'Reilly Book Excerpts: Java Web Services

UDDI: Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration, Part 1

Related Reading

Java Web Services
By David A. Chappell, Tyler Jewell

by Tyler Jewell and David A. Chappell

UDDI -- Universal Description, Discovery and Integration -- is a key Web services technology. In this series of excerpts from Java Web Services, you'll learn how to program UDDI services. Part one here provides a basic understanding of UDDI and how Java works with it.

UDDI: Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration

The Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) Project provides a standardized method for publishing and discovering information about web services. The UDDI Project is an industry initiative that attempts to create a platform-independent, open framework for describing services, discovering businesses, and integrating business services. UDDI focuses on the process of discovery in the service-oriented architecture.

The UDDI Project is an initiative that communicates with the public through www.uddi.org. The UDDI Community runs the UDDI Project. The Community consists of a group of Working Group members who develop the specifications and Advisory Group members who provide requirements and review the specifications. The Working Group is an invitation-based group and the Advisory Group is open to everyone.

Web services are becoming the basis for electronic commerce of all forms. Companies invoke the services of other companies to accomplish a business transaction. In an environment in which only a few companies participate, managing the discovery of business partners manually would be simple. After all, how difficult would it be to figure out if one of your few business partners has an access point that adheres to your requirements? This model breaks down, however, as the number of companies that you need to interact with grows, along with the number and types of interfaces they export. How do you discover all the business partners that you can do business with? If you attempted to account for them manually, you could never be sure that you discovered every partner. UDDI is a single conceptual registry distributed among many nodes that replicate the participating businesses' data with one another. The UDDI registry of services (hosted by different businesses on the Internet) attempts to solve this problem.

This chapter presents an overview of UDDI and how to put it to work. It includes a discussion about the information stored in a UDDI registry, the different potential uses of UDDI, and its technical architecture; the specifications that comprise the UDDI effort, with a focus on their relevance to developers and a list of different Java approaches for programming with UDDI; and an introduction to interacting with a UDDI registry programmatically. The following sections cover the UDDI data structures and XML APIs available for accessing a registry.

UDDI Overview

Prior to the UDDI project, no industry-wide approach was available for businesses to reach their customers and partners with information about their products and web services. Nor was there a uniform method that detailed how to integrate the systems and processes that are already in place at and between business partners. Nothing attempted to cover both the business and development aspects of publishing and locating information associated with a piece of software on a global scale.

Conceptually, a business can register three types of information into a UDDI registry. The specification does not call out these types specifically, but they provide a good summary of what UDDI can store for a business:

White pages
Basic contact information and identifiers about a company, including business name, address, contact information, and unique identifiers such as D-U-N-S numbers or tax IDs. This information allows others to discover your web service based upon your business identification.
Yellow pages
Information that describes a web service using different categorizations (taxonomies). This information allows others to discover your web service based upon its categorization (such as being in the manufacturing or car sales business).
Green pages
Technical information that describes the behaviors and supported functions of a web service hosted by your business. This information includes pointers to the grouping information of web services and where the web services are located.

How UDDI Is Used

UDDI has several different uses, based on the perspective of who is using it. From a business analyst's perspective, UDDI is similar to an Internet search engine for business processes. Typical search engines, such as AskJeeves, organize and index URLs for web sites. However, a business exporting a web service needs to expose much more than a simple URL. A business analyst can browse one or more UDDI registries to view the different businesses that expose web services and the specifications of those services. However, business users probably won't browse a UDDI registry directly, since the information stored within it is not necessarily reader friendly. A series of marketplaces and business search portals could crop up to provide business analysts with a more user-oriented approach to browsing the services and businesses hosted in a UDDI registry.

Software developers use the UDDI Programmer's API to publish services (i.e., put information about them in the registry) and query the registry to discover services matching various criteria. It is conceivable that software will eventually discover a service dynamically and use it without requiring human interaction.

TIP: Even though the API provided by UDDI allows random searching for businesses, it's not feasible for a program to select new business partners dynamically. Realistically, it's more likely that business analysts with specific knowledge of the problem at hand will use UDDI portals to discover potentially interesting services and partners, and technologists will write programs to use the services from companies that have already been discovered. We'll probably see programs that update the data in a UDDI registry, but most publicly available registries already have a user-friendly interface that allows human users to update information in a registry.

Even though the registries have human-friendly interfaces for direct access, humans should never have to interface with a repository directly. The web service tool you use should automate interaction with a UDDI registry. For example, if you use a tool that creates a web service, that tool should be able to not only deploy the web service into production, but add it to the UDDI registry for you on your behalf.

Both business analysts and software developers can publish new business entities and services. Business analysts can use portals attached directly to a particular UDDI server or to a more general search portal that supports UDDI. Figure 6-1 depicts the relationship between business analysts and technologists.

Diagram.
Figure 6-1. Relationship between business analysts and technologists.

Technical Architecture

Figure 6-2 depicts the makeup of the UDDI project. The UDDI Business Registry (UBR), also known as the Public Cloud, is a conceptually single system built from multiple nodes that has their data synchronized through replication. A series of operator nodes each hosts a copy of the content. The global grouping of operator nodes is jointly known as the UBR. Operator nodes replicate content among one another. Accessing any individual operator node provides the same information and quality of service as any other operator node. Content inserted into the UBR is done at a single node, and that operator node becomes the master owner of that content. Any subsequent updates or deletes of the data must occur at the operator node where the data was inserted.

Diagram.
Figure 6-2. The UDDI initiative.

Note that the scope of the UDDI project is much more than the UBR; a company can provide a private operator node that is not part of the UBR. Private nodes do not have data synchronized with the UBR, so the information contained within is distinct. A grouping of companies can also create a "private cloud" of nodes that have information replicated between their private nodes, but that replication sequence will not have any interaction with the UBR nodes.

The UBR has widely accessible inquiry services, but services may be published only by authenticated entities. Any business can create an operator node and make it available over the Internet and part of the UBR. Private operator nodes can define the access rules for their nodes on a case-by-case basis. They can follow the same model as the UBR or make the restrictions looser or tighter.

Companies will likely set up private UDDI nodes. Even though use of these nodes will probably be limited in the near future, quite a few companies are showing interest in setting up private registries for internal or B2B operations. Industry groups are also discussing options for meeting the demands of their individual sector.

Many products have either been created or are being expanded to allow companies to create their own public and private UDDI registries. For example, BEA WebLogic Server and IBM WebSphere both intend to ship a fully compliant UDDI Server embedded within the application server sometime in 2002. Other companies, such as Systinet, HP, Oracle, SAP, Cape Clear, The Mind Electric, and Silverstream, have created J2EE-compliant UDDI implementations that work with existing application servers, including Tomcat, BEA, and IBM. Microsoft has an implementation based upon .NET. Additionally, two open source J2EE UDDI projects are in development: Bowstreet's jUDDI (http://www.juddi.org) and JP Moresmau's pudding (http://www.opensorcerer.org).

UDDI Specifications and Java-Based APIs

This section discusses the different specifications that make up the UDDI initiative and the options available to developers writing Java programs that interact with a UDDI registry.

UDDI Specifications

The UDDI project also defines a set of XML Schema definitions that describe the data formats used by the various specification APIs. These documents are all available for download at http://www.uddi.org. The UDDI project releases their specifications in unison. The current version of all specification groups is Version 2.0. The specifications include:

UDDI replication
This document describes the data replication processes and interfaces to which a registry operator must conform to achieve data replication between sites. This specification is not a programmer's API; it defines the replication mechanism used among UBR nodes.
UDDI operators
This document outlines the behavior and operational parameters required by UDDI node operators. This specification defines data management requirements to which operators must adhere. For example, node operators are responsible for durable recording and backup of all data, ensuring that each business registration has a valid email address associated with it, and the integrity of the data during deletions (e.g., deleting a business means that all of its service entries must also be deleted). This document is not a programmer's API and private registries are not required to support it.
UDDI Programmer's API
This specification defines a set of functions that all UDDI registries support for inquiring about services hosted in a registry and for publishing information about a business or a service to a registry. This specification defines a series of SOAP messages containing XML documents that a UDDI registry accepts, parses, and responds to. This specification, along with the UDDI XML API schema and the UDDI Data Structure specification, makes up a complete programming interface to a UDDI registry.
UDDI data structures
This specification covers the specifics of the XML structures contained within the SOAP messages defined by the UDDI Programmer's API. This specification defines five core data structures and their relationships to one another.

The UDDI XML API schema is not contained in a specification; rather, it is stored as an XML Schema document that defines the structure and datatypes of the UDDI data structures.

Java-Based APIs

The UDDI specifications do not directly define a Java-based API for accessing a UDDI registry. The Programmer's API specification only defines a series of SOAP messages that a UDDI registry can accept. Thus, a Java developer who wishes to access a UDDI registry can do so in a number of ways:

Using a Java-based SOAP API
A Java programmer can use an API that creates SOAP messages containing a UDDI XML document. The Java programmer would be have to create each XML document by hand and insert this document into the body of each SOAP message. This approach would require that a developer understand the ordering of the SOAP messages that a UDDI registry accepts and format each SOAP message properly.
Using a custom Java-based UDDI client API
Some companies, such as Systinet, have created client APIs for accessing a UDDI registry. These APIs have classes and constructs that represent the data structures and messages supported by UDDI. These APIs also allow you to interact with a UDDI registry without knowing the specifics of SOAP or the XML messages and data structures that UDDI interacts with. These custom libraries work with any UDDI registry, so you can use Systinet's library to access Microsoft's UBR node.
Using JAXR
The JAXR specification defines a standardized way for Java programs to access a registry. JAXR allows developers to write code that can access several different registries, including UDDI and the ebXML Registry/Repository. JAXR's programming constructs don't mimic those used by UDDI, but this API gives you a common way to access a variety of different registry types, whereas a custom Java-based UDDI client API can access only a UDDI registry. The trade-off for portability is dealing with the additional layer of abstraction required by JAXR. JAXR is currently in an early preview release

To get you up to speed with UDDI, this chapter presents a simple UDDI example implemented three times--one time for each technique. Apache SOAP is used to develop a client that uses a Java-based SOAP API, Systinet WASP UDDI Client Package demonstrates a custom Java-based UDDI client API, and a JAXR client shows how JAXR's abstract approach looks to the developer. However, as more details of UDDI are explained, the examples use the Apache SOAP implementation because it allows us to focus on the details of XML and UDDI.

In the next installment, learn to do UDDI programming.

Tyler Jewell , Director, Technical Evangelism, BEA Systems Tyler oversees BEA's technology evangelism efforts that are focused on driving early adoption of strategic BEA technologies into the ISV and developer community.

David A. Chappell is vice president and chief technology evangelist for is vice president and chief technologist for SOA at Oracle Corporation.


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