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Web services are self-contained business functions that operate over the Internet. They are written to strict specifications to work together and with other similar kinds of components. A Web service consists of an endpoint created by the service provider and a client application created by the service consumer. The "Strict Specifications" are encoded in a WSDL (Web Services Definition Language) paper published by the service provider. This paper is a language and platform-independent XML document that specifies the format of input and output for the Web service endpoint. Communication to and from the Web service endpoint is also accomplished via XML, specifically SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messages.
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