WSDL Basics

What and Why WSDL

WSDL is a descriptor for Web Service that is XML formatted. Like any J2EE descriptors, it basically describes the Web Service. Web Service is described as a set of endpoints (ports) which would have 2 parts – Abstract definition and Concrete binding (Will dive onto that later).


The WSDL is basically the contract between the client and implementation. Everything that are defined and exposed has a definition inside the WSDL file.

Why WSDL? – Enables automation of communication details between communicating partners. Machines can read XML/WSDL documents and able to invoke the defined service in WSDL. 3rd part can also verify if the communication conforms to WSDL standards.

WSDL Document Structure


<wsdl:definitions xmlns:wsdl=""                   targetNamespace="your name space here"                   xmlns:tns="your name space here"                   xmlns:soapbind="">

        <xs:schema targetNamespace="your namespace here" xmlns:xsd="">

    <wsdl:message name="some operation input">
           <!--Parts here-->

    <wsdl:message name ="some operation output">
        <!--Parts here-->

    <wsdl:portType name="your type name">
        <!-- Define operations here-->

    <wsdl:binding name="your binding name" type="tns:port type name above">
        <!-- define style of transport here-->



On the sample above, the XML file uses the wsdl namespace as highlighted.

Example of WSDL document

The WSDL service above has a simple service generating strings and returning them. It will have a single operation called getSystemMessageAndReturn. It will be deployed using SOAP 1.1 over HTTP. The service takes a “string” message and responds with a message that has the “string” in it.

Nothing is much more simpler than that.

7 Elements of WSDL:

  • Types – data type definition and used to describe exchanged messages.
  • Message – abstract, typed definitions of data being exchanged
  • Operation – abstract description of an action. Refers to an input and/or output messages.
  • Port Type – Collection of operations
  • Binding – Concrete protocol and data format (encoding) for a particular Port type.
  • Port  – Defines a single communication endpoint. Endpoint address for binding. URL for HTTP, email address for SMTP.
  • Service -Aggregate set of related ports.

WSDL View of a Web Service


Web Service Invocation


Message Element

A message element can consist of one or more logical parts. It is basically the data unit of an WSDL definition.

<definitions ....>
   <message name="nmtoken">
      <part name="nmtoken" element="qname"? type="qname" ?/>

Types of Operations

There are 2 types of operations that we can define on our WSDL. One way or Two way.


The endpoint receives a message only.

<operation name="submitPurchase">
   <input message="purchase"/>


The endpoint receives a message and sends a correlated message.

<operation name="submitPurchase">
   <input message="purchase"/>
   <output message="confirmation"/>
<operation name="submitPurchase">
   <input message="purchase"/>
   <output message="confirmation"/>
   <fault message="faultMessage"/>

Importing and Authoring Style

  • When a developer creates a web service, it is important to consider reusability and maintainability.
  • It is important also to maintain a WSDL document in 3 separate parts.
    • Data Type definitions
    • Abstract definitions
    • Specific Service Bindings
  • Use import element to import necessary part of WSDL document. This makes the parts more isolated and thus, maintainable.=


You can download some WSDL examples here.

On the next blog post, we’ll be creating a Web Service from scratch and apply all what we learned from here. See you!

Web Services Overview


Hello All! From this point forward, I’ll be doing series of posts related to Web Services. This is part of my on going certification study for the Web Services Expert exam. I’ll go from the fundamental questions of what Web Services are up to the deeper depths of it’s anatomy.

I don’t expect any of this to be published anywhere, but feel free to use my content for the right intentions and purposes.

For this post, I’ll be answering these few questions.

  • What is a Web Service
  • Why do we need Web Services
  • Where are & where are Web Services going?
  • Types of Web Services
  • Web Services on Java Platform

What are Web Services

Web services by definition are client and server applications that communicate over the WWW HTTP. It provides a standardisation of exposing services to multiple platforms, creating cross platform interoperability and extensibility. In a nutshell, it’s just a service exposed via the web which means accessible by HTTP/HTTPS.

Why do we need Web Services

There is always a growing demand for integrating systems that were built differently. The WEB has put a standard for all these systems to communicate with each other via it’s protocols. All platforms understand http and is able to parse XML format.

Where are & where are Web Services going?

It’s going bananas actually. Within the next couple of years, I can see that Web Services will be the main defacto approach in integrating many different applications and platforms. Tools will be available so that developers will easily integrate and create Web Services almost instantly and most of the what can be virtualize, will be soon be available as a service (and accessible via Web Service).

Types of Web Services

Big Web Services

Big Web Services uses XML as payloads and use the Simple Object Access Protocol to send and receive messages. We use JAX-WS and JAXB/JAXP implementation to read/write XML format file (structure data) and process them to our applications. Big Web Services are normally for large data that are mission critical to it’s purpose.

SOAP Web Services are also used to create stateful/session based service. This means that it can retain a specific client (thread) session and store its state on it’s entire lifespan.

REST Web Services

REST Web Services are much simpler mechanism. By default, stateless in nature, this is a type of Web Services we want to developer if we just want to expose a specific data structure. It’s simplicity has been the core point of it’s attractiveness to the developers and it’s lightweight approach makes it the primary choice for creating/integrating web services on micro / mobile devices.

It is important to understand the basic fundamentals/concepts of these 2 types as it will help you understand on how to effectively and efficiently design bullet proof Web Services for your customers.

On the next set of POST. I’ll be going on a deep dive adventure on creating our first BIG and REST Web Services.