Programming Web Services with Perl
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: December 2002
Pages: 488

Given Perl's natural fit for web applications development, it's no surprise that Perl is also a natural choice for web services development. It's the most popular web programming language, with strong implementations of both SOAP and XML-RPC, the leading ways to distribute applications using web services. But books on web services focus on writing these applications in Java or Visual Basic, leaving Perl programmers with few resources to get them started. Programming Web Services with Perl changes that, bringing Perl users all the information they need to create web services using their favorite language.

Programming Web Services with Perl steers clear of the hype surrounding web services and concentrates on what is useful and practical. The book introduces the major web services standards, such as XML-RPC, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI, and shows how to implement Perl servers and clients using these standards. You'll find detailed references on both the XML and SOAP toolkits, and learn when to use one technology in favor of the other. The book is rich with programming examples that you'll find useful well past the learning stage. And, moving beyond the basics, the book offers solutions to problems of security, authentication, and scalability.

Some of the topics covered in the book are:

  • HTTP and XML basics
  • XML-RPC and the toolkits
  • SOAP and toolkits
  • SOAP::Lite
  • Using SOAP with SMTP and other protocols
  • Advertising and discovering with UDDI and WSDL
  • The REST methodology
  • The future of web services
Programming Web Services with Perl was written for Perl programmers who have no prior knowledge of web services. You can pick up this book without any understanding of XML-RPC or SOAP and be able to apply these technologies easily, through the use of publicly available Perl modules detailed in the book.

If you're interested in applying XML-RPC and SOAP technologies to distributed programming applications, then Programming Web Services with Perl is a book you'll want to have.

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Programming Web Services with Perl Review

By Garrett Goebel

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media Programming Web Services with Perl:

Programming Web Services with Perl is principally a book on implementing solutions using XML-RPC and SOAP in Perl. It also covers complementary and alternative standards such as WSDL, UDDI, and REST in some detail. And on the periphery, it finishes with a whirlwind tour of developing message routing, alternative data encoding within XML, security, transactions, workflow, internationalization, service discovery, extension, and management techniques and specifications.

The book assumes the reader will have the knowledge of an intermediate level Perl programmer. I.e., the reader is assumed to have a working knowledge of references, data structures, and object-oriented Perl. On the other hand no previous knowledge of XML, XML-RPC, SOAP or XML related technologies is required.

It should also be mentioned that both of the authors Randy J. Ray and Pavel Kulchenko are also the principle developers of the most popular XML-RPC and SOAP Perl modules: XML::RPC and SOAP::Lite respectively. That said, the book is not a soap box for the authors to tout the merits of their tools.

Rather, it is a practical book which starts with grounding fundamentals. Readers should walks away with a core understanding of XML-RPC and SOAP and not just a particular tool set for working with them. The authors examine the alternative XML-RPC and SOAP tools, illustrate how they are used, and give practical and even handed reasons why their modules should be preferred. Which comes down to issues of active development, support, and the amount of work required to code to a particular interface. They then settle down to a comfortable and thorough guide to XML::RPC and SOAP::Lite.

The topics and issues are illustrated throughout using real world web services. For example creating an XML-RPC client for O'Reilly's Meerkat news wire, or a SOAP client to covert use.perl.org's journal stream to RSS. Code is presented to the reader filtered down to highlight each particular issue as it is discussed. This is nice in that it avoids listing slight variations of the same code multiple times, but on the down side it can also leave the reader flipping back and forth to reassemble an example in their head. Full code for each example is provided in the appendices. And all of the example code may be downloaded from O'Reilly at http://examples.oreilly.com/pwebserperl/.

All-in-all, the book is a thorough practical introduction to working with XML-RPC, SOAP and related technologies. When I started reading the book, I was a bit disappointed to see that it only covered XML-RPC and SOAP related services. When I finished, I was impressed with how very much information they'd managed to pack into so few pages.

And yet, I was left wishing there'd been a more through coverage of interoperability issues between other SOAP implementations and things like custom de-serializers. To be honest interoperability and de-serialization are mentioned, and the authors do an excellent job of referring the reader on to sources for continued reading on most other topics.

The book does an admirable job balancing content, length, and information density. Not to mention an excellent job delivering the information that will still be relevant years and not just weeks from the date published. Most of the topics I'd wished to see covered in more depth are those that are still developing and consequently most likely to become quickly dated. In short a well balanced practical guide to applying XML-RPC and SOAP to solve problems.

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