What's the beef?

The answer to:

@sgillies What's the beef with OGC WMS and WFS?

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First, let me review the good about the OGC service architecture and its W*S specs. The OGC has made interoperability a top priority in GIS. Everybody recognizes this is a huge accomplishment. I do too. My favorite byproduct is the increasing priority of open access. It's no accident. The OGC intended that interoperability would lead to more open access to data, and it has. It's a wonderful thing. My other favorite, and perhaps more accidental, byproduct is that thinking of GIS services as interchangeable commodity components leads rather quickly to considering open source implementations. I also think the OGC has done a fine job identifying and standardizing the parameters of our common processes, and a generally good job on message formats. So much good, I must be in heaven, right?

My beef with W*S is that its architects didn't do their Web homework. Despite the "Web" in the name, service design isn't informed by Web architecture and the understanding of HTTP (the Hypertext Transfer Protocol) begins and ends with CGI (the Common Gateway Interface). W*S understands and uses the Web as an alchemist understood and used the elements. We bear the cost of needless reinvention: "Update sequence" instead of HTTP Expiration and Validation, "Web Geolinking Service" instead of standard HTTP interaction, "GeoDDS" instead of Atom. Despite the idea that W*S are designed to be transport-neutral, HTTP is the only significant "distributed computing type" (what the architects call "transport"). The USGS Framework WFS uses no other transport than HTTP. GeoBase uses no other transport than HTTP. Still, our "Web" services remain things that are not really of the Web.

Another minor beef is that in our interoperability fervor we have made standardization holy. The GIS community largely believes that standards should come before implementation, should be built in clean rooms by an elite group of standards scientists, and this stifles innovation. I depend on standards as much as anyone, but I feel we should be standardizing on best practices more than we currently do.


Re: What's the beef?

Author: Jachym

Further more, I'm missing propper support of SOAP in W*S specifications, which would make OGC "Webservice" to W3C "Webservice" (if I understand this well).This particular thing makes OGC OWS incompatible with Inspire, which is essential for european GISers.

Re: What's the beef?

Author: Sean

The only thing I'll say about SOAP as a transport, is that it isn't any more of a transport than HTTP is. Look at the mess that is a SOAP DCPType for WxS: WxS (transport independent) over SOAP (not a transport) over HTTP (not a transport) over TCP (ah, there's the actual transport).

Re: What's the beef?

Author: C. Reed

One minor disagreement - your last statement is incorrect. The vast majority of new OGC candidate standards are "birthed" in the hot bed of implementation and not in a "clean room". These birthing areas could be in the wild or in an OGC test bed. WMS and WFS were birthed around the same time as some other web standards (SOAP, WSDL, etc) but back then no one had even thought of implementing SOAP in 1998 and 1999. So, we are dealing with some legacy here.

Re: What's the beef?

Author: Sean

Carl (yes?), I agree that there seems to be a positive trend (GeoRSS, KML, GeoPDF), but is it really a sea change in how the OGC makes standards?