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SharePoint 2013 Workflows and Web Services

As Chris Beckett notes at the start of a 19 min video tutorial titled Calling Web Services – lecture, ” . . . one of the more powerful new features of SharePoint 2013 workflow, but probably also one of the most technically complex, [is web services]”. The complexity of this feature can constitute a formidable obstacle to implementing it, successfully. So this tutorial provides the background SharePoint 2013 administrators and developers require to understand web services within the context of workflow development.

Chris Becket explains ” . . . web services allow us to contact remote servers and pull back data over the internet.” He presents “two fundamentally different type of web services”: SOAP based web services and restful web services. Microsoft authored the SOAP web services platform in 1999 “to allow software applications to exchange structured messages over the internet”. But Chris notes SOAP was not designed to work with HTTP. SOAP did make use of the XML programming language to ensure the methodology would be vendor neutral.

Restful web services were developed in 2006. In fact, SOAP web services were not designed for the web. But restful state web services were conceptualized as a better, more efficient solution for data communications over the rich, hyper text data communications paradigm of the internet and the world wide web. Restful web services work far better with the type of unstructured data which characterizes online information.

Restful web services have undergone further evolution from dependence on the original XML programming language (Chris Beckett notes the verbosity of the XML language, “it takes up a lot of bites”, as a hindrance to developers), to use of “atom”, the standards based programming language used for RSS feeds. JSON is also very widely used for web services.

This video tutorial should be a “must view” for any organization looking to exploit workflow manager 1.0 in a SharePoint Server 2013 environment where it is clear web services will be required to deliver required workflow performance.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved