Interests: Web Services
Web services is offering functionality to customers and other service providers across the Internet. This allows a purely distributed application to be built that takes advantage of the inherent redundancy of the Internet to benefit the eventual user.
The advantages are enormous since the application interfaces of all services will be XML-based (such as WSDL, UDDI and SOAP) any service can communicate with any other service, ask for a list of available functions and then request one of those functions or services. Specialist services will be created by the specialists themselves, and then offered to the public - both client and servers, thus resulting in a pure services orientated environment.
Of the Web services technologies, three major candidates stand out:
J2EE: The Java framework that includes enterprise level packages, more than enough to create a webservice application using a general object-orientated approach.
.Net: Developed and introduced by Microsoft, but alread there are two significant Open Source alternatives in the works Mono and dotGnu. .Net is an application platform where web services are an integral part of the framework. It creates a platform independant intermediary language called MSIL - which is a stack-based byte-code. This has the advantage of allowing multiple development languages to be used, even being able to extend functionality written in one language to be written in a distinctly different programming language.
Python: A scripting language that is picking up a respectable following. This seems to be the language of choice for people on the cutting edge of web services. Seems to have every three- or four-letter acronym technology covered.
So far Sun's J2EE has had quite a head start, and its framework is already in use by many financial companies within the UK. .Net is relatively new to the scene, their production level release of their development kit is yet to surface, and many developers are using the beta2 of Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net.
.Net looks to be a worthy contender except for one crucial point. It is plugged as being cross-platform, but until this framework is running under Linux and FreeBSD, its hard to recommend it as a web service solution. This is no easy problem to resolve, since Microsoft have made it quite clear they are unwilling to work within a GPL-typed environment, and its this stance that will break .Net into a Windows-only box in a server environment that is extremely Unix dominated. I wait with interest how Microsoft tackles the growing competitive products in Mono.