What is REST Web Service?

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Ten or 15 years ago, when people talked about Web Services, you would immediately understand they were referring to SOAP. But these days, if someone says they have a Web Service interface, you need to follow up with the question: “What kind of Web Service – SOAP or REST? ” In fact,  REST is fast becoming the more visible application interface on the Internet.  This blog provides a quick overview of what REST is, and how it compares to SOAP.

Web Services

Firstly, like SOAP, REST is a Web Service, which by definition provides an Application-to-Application interface. So functionally, REST is similar to SOAP in that it enables a Client application to invoke an operation/method in a Server application . Furthermore, REST uses HTTP and HTTPS as the communication protocol, just as SOAP does. Their differences lie in what is underneath the cover.

webserver_flowchart Continue reading

A 10 Minute Guide on NonStop Interoperability: “Web Services versus ODBC”


If you are like a lot of NonStop users, chances are that you have other platforms (like .NET or Java) and databases (e.g. MS SQL Server or Oracle) that you would like your application to interact with. For the past two years, users have enjoyed attending our Tutorial Webinars to learn how our products SOAP/AM and Attunity Connect can open up the NonStop for better interoperability.

But occasionally, someone would ask: “What is difference between using Web Services and ODBC?” and “Which approach is better?” This 10-minute article is intended to provide an easy-to-understand answer to these questions.

For our discussion purpose here, let’s say that you have information on the NonStop that needs to be accessed by a .NET application from another department.

“What is the difference between using Web Service versus OBC?

The short answer to this question lies in YOUR answer to a simple question: Do you want that .NET application to access your Pathway Server or the database directly?

Accessing Pathway Server – Web Service

Most applications on the NonStop tend to be implemented in the form of a Pathway Server, which provides the business logic and the interface point to the Enscribe or NS SQL database. And if you want to make a Pathway Server “callable” by an external platform, e.g. .NET or Java, then Web Service is the most direct approach.

In my Web Service 101 for NonStop Users blog, I have discussed how the Web Service architecture is very similar to Pathway:

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By using a Web Service product like SOAP/AM, you can easily turn that Pathway Server into a Web Service that can be consumed by .NET, Java and other applications. Via point-and-click in SOAP/AM Control Panel, you can easily generate a WSDL, which can then be imported in Visual Studio.NET and voila! That .NET application can send request to your Pathway Server.

Accessing data directly – ODBC

In some cases, you may want to provide external clients the ability to access the data directly.

  • One common example is that you want to use Crystal Reports to generate reports on NonStop data.
  • Or maybe you want to enable users to load NonStop data into Excel directly.
  • A .NET application needs to add a transaction record on the NonStop.

In these cases, using a tool such as Attunity Connect will allow Enscribe file and NonStop SQL data to be accessed directly from external clients, including .NET, Java, mainframe and others.

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“Which approach is better?”

As you can see, these two approaches address two different needs. One is not intrinsically “better” than the other. You need to determine what you requirement is, and apply the solution that best addresses that need.

In fact, Web Services and ODBC are actually complementary solutions. That’s why many of our customers actually take advantage of both approaches and use SOAP/AM and Attunity Connect to expand their interoperability options in an enterprise environment.

Additional information

Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of the home page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

 

What Every NonStop User Should Know About Web Service Security

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Question
How can you tell who the NonStop users are in the audience when you are doing a product presentation?

Answer
They are the ones who always ask:

  1. Is it high-performance?
  2. Is it scalable?
  3. Is it secure?

In this article, we want to address the question of security as it relates to Web Service.

Security is always on NonStop users’ mind, as they are very protective of their applications and data on the platform. Historically, security was accomplished relatively easily because of the proprietary nature of the Guardian platform, such as the unique NonStop world of 6530 protocol, SCOBOL code, TAL, etc. Today this “security via obscurity” has given way to open architecture in order to promote easier inter-platform exchange. Nowadays, more and more NonStop Users are embracing the benefits of SOA and Web Services. At the same time, they still want to be assured that security measures are available to protect their data.

Here a quick review of some basic measures you can use to secure Web Service transactions:

Access Control – Make sure your WSDLs and Web Services can be accessed only by authorized sources.

  • Enforce the rule that only computers with a specific IP address or within a range of IP addresses can have access.
  • Require authentication to access the web service repository. That is, all requests must have a User ID and Password to get through. SOAP/AM supports both Basic and Digest Authentication.
  • Instead of allowing access to all web services by any authenticated user, consider segmenting them into different service groups. Allow each group of services to be accessible only with authorized access via authentication. This way, you can protect more sensitive web services (such as UPDATE payroll data) from unauthorized users. SOAP/AM provides the ability to enforce access to certain web services only by certain users.

Encryption -Protect the request and response data by encrypting the data in flight.

  • One of the benefits of the using SOAP is that HTTPS is available for encryption.
  • Both SSL and TLS for encryptions are included as standard in SOAP/AM.

Additional Security

  • The above should be augmented by additional higher-level security, such as on the application level.
  • For example, you may want to require a valid application level logon and password to determine whether the user is entitled to perform the requested function.

By adopting SOAP and Web Services, you will enable your programs to interoperate more easily with other platforms, while taking advantage of the many available built-in security features such as HTTP authentication and encryption via SSL/TLS.

Additional information

Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful?  Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of this page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

 

Web Enabling with ASP.NET and SOAP/AM – Part 1 – Learning Tools

Web Enabling and Web Service are two very popular topics for many NonStop users. In the past 10 years, we have helped many customers in understanding and applying these technologies to enhance their NonStop applications. I would like to share some of that experience with you in this 5 part blog series by going through a step-by-step overview of these technologies. My goal is to help NonStop Users learn by doing.

In Part 1, I want to point you to some basic tools and resources that we will be using in our next few tutorial blogs. I would suggest that you download the tool and watch the video to get familiarized with them.

Download Learning Tool

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The best way to learn about Web Enabling is to actually work with some samples. What you will need is a development tool that allows you to do everything on your desktop, without having to spend a lot of money or a lot of time to set up. One such tool that I would recommend is Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express. This is a free tool that you can use to learn about ASP.NET and the IIS technologies.

Its benefits include:

  • It is free
  • It is easy to install and set up
  • There are lots of tutorial samples available
  • It is a very popular and standard platform

It is very similar to Microsoft’s Visual Studio.NET. Is your organization doing any Windows development in some departments? If so, there is a good chance that someone is using Visual Studio already. That person could be a helpful resource for you in answering your questions about Visual Web Developer.

Download Microsoft Web Developer 2010 Express

Tutorial on ASP.NET

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A lot information on ASP.NET is available on the Internet. One web site that I particularly like is Microsoft’s ASP.NET. It has a lot of good information, such as:

  • Tutorials (including video)
  • Sample code
  • Free tools or controls for downloading
  • Discussion forums

So if you have never worked with ASP.NET before, I would suggest that you

  • Visit Microsoft ASP.NET web site (http://www.ASP.NET)
  • Go to the “Getting Started page
  • Check out the “Build your First ASP.NET Web Application” (#3)
  • Watch the short video tutorial “Create an app with ASP.NET Web Forms.”
  • Try the step-by-step example from the video.  This will give you a good start on what ASP.NET can do for you.

You can also get to the ASP.NET web site from within Visual Web Developer. When you open up the program, you will be promopted with this:

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If you click on “Quickly Create Your First Application“, it will take you the ASP.NET web site also.

In our next blog installment (Part 2), I will step through an ASP.NET example that interfaces to Web Service.
Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of this page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

 

Web Service 101 for NonStop Users

One of the challenges about a topic like SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) or Web Service is not that there is a lack of information. On the contrary, the problem is that there is too much information out there, such as in publications, on the Internet, or from vendor data sheets.  A Google search of “SOA” yields over 50 million hits, while a “Web Service” search returns over 419 million results.  So, where are you going to start, and how long is this going to take you to learn all these?

Don’t let this daunt you.  In this article, we will distill the key essentials of SOA and Web Services into several simple, understandable concepts, especially focusing on what are relevant to your NonStop world.

  • SOA is an architecture, not a product
    Service Oriented Architecture, as the term implies, is a conceptual framework, not a product.  You can compare it with other terms like: Client/Server, Object Oriented Programming or Distributed Processing.  The way to implement SOA is usually via Web Services.
  • Web Service is more than just a Web application
    If you have an application running on a web service that interacts with a browser user, that is not a web service.  Web Service refers to a standard method of communication using certain protocols, which we will cover later.
  • Web Service is Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
    Technically, Web Service can provide more than RPC function. But practically, most applications use Web Service to allow a Client program on one platform calling a Server program or routine on another platform.  This also implies that Web Service involves an application to application, end-to-end protocol  environment.
  • Web Service makes it easy for inter-platform communication
    This is the essence of Web Service: by following this standard, applications on one platform can easily invoke the service on another platform.

Web Service and NonStop

Guess what? Web Service is basically a different implementation of something you already know very well in the NonStop world: Pathway.  Let’s look at some of the the similarity between Web Service and Pathway.

In Pathway, you have a Requester (Client) communicating with a Server (Server Class) over a message-based protocol.

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Web Service is based on the same principle, except that it enables the Client or the Server to exist on platforms other than NonStop over an intranet or the Internet.  For example:

  • You can have a client program on another platform like .NET, accessing your Pathway COBOL Server using Web Service.
  • You can have a requester program on the NonStop, such as SCOBOL or COBOL, accessing a Stock Quote Service  over the Internet (for example, this Quote Service  from www.xignite.com).  In this case, note that we don’t even have to care what platform that service runs on over the Internet.simplified_webservice

Here are some of the technical differences between them:

Pathway Web Service (WS)
Requester/Client Requester WS Client
Server Server Class WS Server
(or just WS)
Platform NonStop only Any platform
Communication protocol Guardian message system HTTP
Message Structure NonStop ASCII XML
Requester/Response Protocol Guardian message system SOAP
Request/Response structure IPM layout WSDL

If you are interested in learning more about the components used in Web Service, you can request a copy our PowerPoint presentation which explains what XML, SOAP and WSDL are.

Why is Web Service important to NonStop?

Web Service can open up many new possibilities to NonStop applications, such as:

  • Allowing other platforms to access NonStop applications easily
  • Enabling NonStop applications to leverage other services and applications within your company
  • Interfacing to 3rd party packages such as PeopleSoft, SAP or Siebel within the enterprise

What is next?

Now that  we have reviewed the basics of Web Services, in our next blog SOAP/AM Overview, we will show you how you can turn a Pathway Server into a Web Service in 5 minutes!
Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of the home page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.