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What is a web service?

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Quick Answer

A Web service is a type of software system designed to serve as a method for communication between two devices connected to a network. Often, a Web service is simply a Web API that can be accessed over a network by a device requiring a functionality offered by the service.

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Full Answer

Large-scale Web services in an enterprise often utilize XML messages that follow the SOAP standard, typically allowing for a machine-readable description of the functions performed by the service. A newer technology, called RESTful Web services, does not require XML messages.

Non-RESTful Web services have been criticized by some for their complexity and for being based upon large software vendors and integrators, instead of open source alternatives.

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