A web service is a collection of open protocols and standards used for exchanging data between applications or systems. Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various platforms can use web services to exchange data over computer networks like the Internet in a manner similar to inter-process communication on a single computer. This interoperability (e.g., between Java and Python, or Windows and Linux applications) is due to the use of open standards.

Web services use standardized industry standard protocol for the communication. All the four layers (Service Transport, XML Messaging, Service Description, and Service Discovery layers) use well-defined protocols in the web services protocol stack. This standardization of protocol stack gives the business many advantages such as a wide range of choices, reduction in the cost due to competition, and increase in the quality.


Without prejudice to other definitions I would say that a web service is software system that allows for inter-operable machine-to-machine / application-to-application interaction over a network. This generic definitions would also help consider REST architectures to be a web service as they provide similar functionality albeit being an architectural style unlike the SOAP which is a fully defined protocol.
SOAP is known as a transport-independent messaging protocol. SOAP is based on transferring XML data as SOAP Messages. Each message has something which is known as an XML document. Only the structure of the XML document follows a specific pattern, but not the content. The best part of Web services and SOAP is that its all sent via HTTP, which is the standard web protocol.
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You don’t need to create an account to upload images to Use, but you can make your photos public or private. Use offers a photo editor and image re-sizer, and you can also organize your photos into albums. The site doesn’t give direct links, but you can right-click on your photos to copy the image URL, or you can use the site’s social sharing buttons to post your uploads to social media sites.

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In practice, a Web service commonly provides an object-oriented Web-based interface to a database server, utilized for example by another Web server, or by a mobile app, that provides a user interface to the end-user. Many organizations that provide data in formatted HTML pages will also provide that data on their server as XML or JSON, often through a Web service to allow syndication, for example, Wikipedia's Export. Another application offered to the end-user may be a mashup, where a Web server consumes several Web services at different machines and compiles the content into one user interface.
Web services use standardized industry standard protocol for the communication. All the four layers (Service Transport, XML Messaging, Service Description, and Service Discovery layers) use well-defined protocols in the web services protocol stack. This standardization of protocol stack gives the business many advantages such as a wide range of choices, reduction in the cost due to competition, and increase in the quality.
Web services are almost like normal a web page. The difference is that they are formatted to make it very easy for a program to pull data from the page, to the point of probably not using any HTML. They generally also are more reliable as to the consistency of the format, may use a different formal process to define the content such soap or raw xml, and there is often also a descriptor document that formally defines the structure for the data.
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