Web Services in RP Part 2: JobsOnline and DotPHJanette Toral
[February 26, 2003] If there’s one person who knows Web Services by heart, that will be Troy Borja, CEO of Systema Corp.. This company is the entity behind JobsOnline, a popular job site in the Philippines, and the outsourcing group who developed the DotPH Domain Registrar system.
JobsOnline and DotPH are good example of Web Services. Let us learn more about it.
1. Why did JobsOnline and DotPH decided to build their web system as a Web Service?
JobsOnline was built using a Web Service design because the application would be accessed from many devices. From the Internet, PDA, and cell phones. Web Services allowed us to have one back-end implementation for all these devices.
DotPH was designed as a Web Service to allow it to be accessed from many platforms. The DotPH website currently has an ASP/NT front-end that talks to a LINUX based back-end. But, if you will notice almost all DotPH partners have also been able to implement a domain registration system, even if they are running CGI or PERL websites, thanks to the common Web Services back-end.
2. What business goals do you want your Web Service to accomplish?
To create a system that is scalable, modifiable and upgradable.
3. What functions exist in your legacy applications, if any? What new functions did you or would like to create if any?
JobsOnline was not built using the Web Services model from the very start, that is why we are slowly upgrading the design to be fully web services based. Most of the interfaces have already been converted and we are converting even the internal business logic as Web Services.
The DotPH web site was developed from the ground up using a Web Services model, so changes needed would basically be to improve the service and add new functionality.
4. Who are the users of your Web Service? What are their needs?
The JobsOnline web services are not exposed to the public. They are used by our Web, SMS/WAP, and PDA systems.
DotPH Web services are used by DotPH Partners and the DotPH website.
5. Is the use of your Web Service mainly ad hoc or automated?
6. Is your Web Service accessible by wireless devices? How and why did you decided to integrate it?
JobsOnline web services are accessible via WAP, SMS, and PDA via a wireless connection. The Web Services interface cannot be accessed directly and we have custom front ends for WAP/SMS/PDA.
7. What platform did you use for your Web Service? What made you choose that platform? What were the others you’re considering and why you did not choose them?
We developed our Web Services using Microsoft technologies for Jobs Online and the DotPH services were developed using PERL. As you can see the choice of platform does not really matter since Web Services uses standards such as SOAP/XML/XSL.
8. What external standards are you committing to with your Web Service?
SOAP / XML /XSL
9. Did you ever think that your Web Service was built too early or ahead of its time? What advantage/disadvantage has it given you?
We have been developing using the Web Services model for about 2 years now. At first, it was really a pain when the tools were not yet mature and the standards were constantly changing. But the situation right now is much better. The toolsets have stabilized. As an early adoptor we have been able to test what works and what doesn’t. There are basically 2 schools of thought when doing web services.
One is the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) model and the other is the pure messaging model. Most tools you see right now supports the first type. We are taking the messaging model which we think provides more flexibility and actually toolset indepence. Think of it as programs or systems talking to each other using an XML based stream.
10. What do you think is the future of Web Services in the Philippines? Why should companies consider it at all?
There is a lot of potential for Web Services in the Philippines. Web Services has allowed us to create applications with the current skill set we have but still make it compatible with other applications using other languages and even running under different platforms. For developers and companies out there, that is a great proposition.
Do you have an interesting Web Services story to share? I’ll be more than happy to get an email from you.