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Small service is true service while it lasts: integrating web services into IT education

  1. Small service is true service  integrating web services into IT education
  2. Web services have been a recognized (but l ti l i ) (b t relatively minor) part of web development since the standardization of web service standards in the late 1990s
  3. … in the past three or four years
  4. the adoption of simpler REST based REST-based web services has dramatically increased the possible interoperability of web applications.
  5. a large number of real-world web sites f l ld b it now routinely integrate ow ou e y eg a e (or mashup) data from external sources using these services. g
  6. This talk provides an overview of this new approach to development
  7. and d
  8. describes a third-year web development course that heavily integrated a wide variety of d f web services into the student assignments.
  9. The rise,  fall,  f ll and  rise again  g of web services
  10. In the first few years of this decade, there was a great deal of h d l f enthusiasm for service-oriented computing (SOC) and web services.
  11. “SOC will create a nirvana, in which discrete channels “SOC is the next evolutionary of business logic become step in software” reusable, interchangeable parts that can be strung together into business processes with almost no development cost”
  12. Traditional Application pp Functional Functional Functional Capability Capability Capability versus SOC Application Functional Capability network Functional Capability Functional Capability
  13. Web services are simply one approach for one software application to connect and communicate with another software application
  14. Web services provide a mechanism for publishing and consuming services that makes use of the HTTP protocol along with XML
  15. In the first iteration of web services fever, the attention was on a series of related XML vocabularies: WSDL SOAP the WS-protocol stack
  16. While SOAP and WSDL are complex XML schemas, l h this now relatively mature standard is ll i well-supported in both t d i b th .NET and Java environments.
  17. Yet, despite the superb tool support in these two en ironments environments, by the middle years of the 2000s, the enthusiasm for web services had certainly cooled cooled. It had become an important technique for some development niches niches, but hardly the seismic shift predicted at the close of the 1990s 1990s.
  18. But by decade s end decade’s the enthusiasm for web services was back, thanks to the h k h significantly simpler REST-based web service standard.
  19. REST services are i significantly easier to consume in Javascript than SOAP. However, manual XML parsing and processing is required in order to deserialize a REST response back into a usable object.
  20. Nonetheless, the simpler REST approach seems to have won the pp war for web services.
  21. The prevalence of RESTful services has given rise to a new style of web development: the mashup.
  22. Integrating  REST into the  Curriculum
  23. In our IT degree web development has a key place place, with two required and one optional course.
  24. Consumption of REST services was a key k part of the 2009 iteration of t f th it ti f our sixth-semester Web 2 course, which on the technology side mainly hi h th t h l id i l focused on ASP.NET development.
  25. 1st assignment The students were given a SQL Server Express music d t b E i database that was created by the author by transforming open-source XML-based data from the MusicMoz web site.
  26. 1st assignment The students had to create seven ASP.NET reports/pages of progressively higher complexity.
  27. 2nd assignment The students had to expand their first assignment by creating a “real” music real portal site that used the same database data but mashed in content from three to six different REST services.
  28. 2nd assignment Some of the REST services used by the students included: pictures of the artist from flickr additional artist info from yahoo, mtv, and lastfm similar artists f i il ti t from yahoo, mtv, l tf h t lastfm videos by the artist from yahoo, youtube, and mtv upcoming concerts from yahoo,, and 5gig track lyrics from freebase, lyricsfly, and lyricswiki
  29. 2nd assignment Other possibilities suggested to the students included: play and purchase track from iLike, rhapsody, or p p peoplesmusicstore purchasing album from Amazon reviews of album from Amazon or yelp books about this artist from Amazon upcoming concerts f i from B d i Bandsintown, gruvr, livenation, li i or jambase
  30. 3rd assignment Added security, user roles, and a session based session-based favorites list to their second assignment solution.
  31. “creating a mashup i a manual manner is a “ i h in l i very time-consuming task” … a perception the students in this course would no doubt warmly agreed with.
  32. By semester’s end, many students had created a contemporary portfolio-quality site f
  33. Three Issues  h with RESTful  ith RESTf l  Mashups
  34. Issue #1 I Data Discovery y
  35. That is, where do you find a service to do job X or provide data Y? Students had to use open-ended web searching or third-party website API directories (such as programmableweb com) to find an API with the appropriate data
  36. Issue #2 I Data Heterogeneity g y
  37. “Compared to data, services can present a broader form of heterogeneity.” Every single REST service has a totally different XML schema that has to be parsed and reconciled. This meant that the students had to work with some four to six d ff f different XML schemas M h It forced the students to deal with a real design issue: namely, how to effectively reduce code duplication in the face of processing many similar, but different, data sets.
  38. Issue #3 I Data Mediation
  39. A “key difficulty in creating mashups is data mediation between the services to be mashed up ” up. That is, it can be quite challenging to harmonize the data between different services. As a consequence of data heterogeneity, the students were forced to programmatically mediate between th services. di t b t the i
  40. Service  Integration  I i   as  Paradigmatic  IT Activity
  41. Precisely because of these three issues – this type of development experience is crucial for the experience of IT undergraduates.
  42. In the IT2008 Curriculum Guidelines, describes the five key activities of the profession as the “selection, creation, application, selection, integration, and administration of computing technologies.” p g g
  43. The “ability Th “ bili to effectively i ff i l integrate IT-based solutions into the user environment” is listed as a key outcome for IT education. As such, “the integration of , g different technologies and the integration of technologies into organizations are fundamental to Information Technology.”
  44. Integrating heterogeneous RESTful web services into web applications provide an excellent way to practically integrate “integration” into the IT curriculum
  45. Randy Connolly Dept. Computer Science & Information Systems Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada @