Sam Ruby writes:

Many SOAP stacks these days come with automatic roadmap dispensers. Simply append a "?WSDL" to the URL and out pops the description of the service. Many alpha males will tell you that they don't need to ask for directions. But I suspect that these roadmap dispensers will be heavily used.

Absolutely. When services are consumable by namespace completion in an editor, like so:

Then we get the kind of network effect we all want. What matters is not only the number of SOAP endpoints that exist, but the number that are actually used, and "roadmap dispensers" are critical. Automatic testers are darned handy too:

Necessary? No. Desirable? Hugely. I want this, everybody should want this. And it looks like we're going to have it. The tension here, as always, is between what is considered the bare minumum interoperable core, and what is considered optional. If WSDL is not considered core, and isn't everywhere, that will compromise the vision displayed in these images. If it is considered core, it raises the bar on resource-constrained implementors. There's an inevitable and natural tension between these two positions.

John Robb wrote privately to say:


You are pointing to images on your Weblog that are located in your desktop folder (so they are not visible). They have been upstreamed to your cloud.

Thanks, John. This is exactly what I was testing. Here's what I learned:

  1. An image in or below /www/radio/images will be upstreamed. (I think automatically, but maybe it has to be kicked -- Publish->Entire Site?)
  2. Such an image, loaded into a separate IE window, can be dragged into Radio's MS DHTML edit control, and will be inlined.
  3. By default, the URL is like, not ./images.
  4. I guessed that Radio would translate that on upstreaming.
  5. It didn't.
  6. So you have to use Source view in the editor, and change to .
  7. Then, Publish directly. If you switch back to WYSIWYG view, the editing component (which Radio does not control) will revert you to

Obviously most users are not going to figure this out. Just as, years ago, most did not figure out how much writing and illustrating and cross-referencing power was built into the mail/news client that they ran every day. We have a chicken/egg situation here. Hypertextual writing, using words and pictures and links, with fluid transitions among local and remote resources, remains difficult. This exactly parallels the WSDL discussion. Until users can take for granted that in any web writing environment, images and text can be dragged and dropped, and everything will just work, we'll keep missing out on an important network effect.

And now, I'm going to switch back to Source view and re-fix those links which the Edit control has re-broken. Radio can fix this particular glitch by rewriting what the DHTML edit control does, before upstreaming. But the general issue of how we get to a universal canvas remains, well, a general issue.

PS: One more wrinkle. Using . was OK for the homepage, but I forgot this item is echoed into categories and an archive page. So I'm redoing the . as a full reference to the public site.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/01/24.html#a38