Xml is o f ten tho ught o f as easier to co de than

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Unformatted text preview: used by So uthwest to send o ut custo m e-mail messages and o ther marketing campaigns to bring custo mers back to the airline. As geeky as they might at f irst seem, Web services can be very strategic! Figure 9. 7 Sout hwes t . com us es Web s ervices t o allow car rent al and hot el firms t o book s ervices t hrough Sout hwes t . This p roces s t rans forms Sout hwes t . com int o a full­s ervice online t ravel agent . Formats to Facilitate Sharing Data Two additio nal terms yo u might hear within the co ntext o f distributed co mputing are EDI and XML. EDI (elect ronic dat a int erch ange) is a set o f standards f o r exchanging inf o rmatio n between co mputer applicatio ns. EDI is mo st o f ten used as a way to send the electro nic equivalent o f structured do cuments between dif f erent o rganizatio ns. Using EDI, each element in the electro nic do cument, such as a f irm name, address, o r custo mer number, is co ded so that it can be reco gnized by the receiving co mputer pro gram. Eliminating paper do cuments makes businesses f aster and lo wers data entry and erro r co sts. One study sho wed that f irms that used EDI decreased their erro r rates by 82 percent, and their co st o f pro ducing each do cument f ell by up to 96 percent.“P etro leum Industry Co ntinues to Explo re EDI,” Natio nal P etro leum New s 90, no . 12 (No vember 1998). EDI is a very o ld standard, with ro o ts stretching back to the 1948 Berlin Air Lif t. While still in use, a new generatio n o f mo re-f lexible techno lo gies f o r specif ying data standards are taking its place. Chief amo ng the techno lo gies replacing EDI is ext ensible markup language (XML). XML has lo ts o f uses, but in the co ntext o f distributed systems, it allo ws so f tware develo pers to create a set o f standards f o r co mmo n data elements that, like EDI messages, can be sent between dif f erent kinds o f co mputers, dif f erent applicatio ns, and dif f erent o rganizatio ns. XML is o f ten tho ught o f as easier to co de than EDI, and it’s mo re ro bust because it can be extended—o rganizatio ns can create f o rmats to represent any kind o f data (e.g., a co mmo n part number, pho to s, the co mplaint f ield co llected by custo mer suppo rt perso nnel). In f act, mo st messages sent between Web services are co ded in XML (the techno lo gy is a key enabler in mash-ups, discussed in Chapter 7 "So cial Media, P eer P ro ductio n, and Web 2.0"). Many co mputer pro grams also use XML as a way to expo rt and impo rt data in a co mmo n f o rmat that can be used regardless o f the kind o f co mputer hardware, o perating system, o r applicatio n pro gram used. And if yo u design Web sites, yo u might enco unter XML as part o f the co ding behind the cascading style sheets (CSS) that help maintain a co nsistent lo o k and f eel to the vario us Web pages in a given Web site. Rearden Commerce: A Business Built on Web Services Web services, AP Is, and o pen standards no t o nly transf o rm businesses, they can create entire new f irms that change ho w we get things do ne. Fo r a lo o k at the mashed-up, integrated, hyperauto mated po ssibilities that Web services make po ssible, check o ut Rearden Co mmerce, a Fo ster City, Calif o rnia, f irm that is using this techno lo gy to beco me what AMR’s Chief Research Of f ice ref erred to as “Travelo city o n Stero ids.” Using Rearden, f irms can o f f er their busy emplo yees a so rt o f Web-based co ncierge/ perso nal assistant. Rearden o f f ers f irms a o ne-sto p sho p where emplo yees can no t o nly make the f light, car, and ho tel bo o kings they might do f ro m a travel agent, they can also bo o k dinner reservatio ns, spo rts and theatre tickets, and arrange f o r business services like co nf erence calls and package shipping. Rearden do esn’t supply the go o ds and services it sells. Instead it acts as the middleman between transactio ns. A set o f o pen AP Is to its Web services allo ws Rearden’s o ne hundred and sixty tho usand suppliers to send pro duct and service data to Rearden, and to receive bo o king and sales data f ro m the site. In this ultimate business mash-up, a mo bile Rearden user co uld use her pho ne to bo o k a f light into a client city, see restaurants within a certain distance o f her client’s o f f ice, have these lo catio ns po p up o n a Go o gle map, have listings acco mpanied by Zagat ratings and cuisine type, bo o k restaurant reservatio ns thro ugh Open Table, arrange f o r a car and driver to meet her at her client’s o f f ice at a specif ic time, and sync up these reservatio ns with her f irm’s co rpo rate calendaring systems. If so mething unexpected co mes up, like a f light delay, Rearden will be sure she gets the message. The system will keep track o f any cancelled reservatio n credits, and also reco rds travel reward pro grams, so Rearden can be used to spend tho se po ints in the f uture. In o rder to pull o f f this ef f o rt, the...
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This document was uploaded on 01/31/2014.

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