Before the development of image hosting services, the display and exchange of images on the early public Internet of the 1980s-1990s was a laborious and complex process. Expertise was needed to set up a private file server, to connect it to the Internet, and paying for the potentially expensive dedicated Internet connection. Some experts would provide access to a Unix shell and some file storage, via paid access, free public access, or just made available to a select group of private friends. Uploading of images was accomplished with command-line tools like FTP, or uploading images using slow 14.4 to 33.6 kilobit dialup modem connections and terminal protocols like XMODEM to the server storage.
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.
W3C Web Services may use SOAP over HTTP protocol, allowing less costly (more efficient) interactions over the Internet than via proprietary solutions like EDI/B2B. Besides SOAP over HTTP, Web services can also be implemented on other reliable transport mechanisms like FTP. In a 2002 document, the Web Services Architecture Working Group defined a Web services architecture, requiring a standardized implementation of a "Web service."
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