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Connecting to Web Services
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n the dynamic world of the Internet, sometimes it isn t enough to just have an important web presence; you also need to interact with functionality provided by third parties to achieve your goals. So far in this book, you already saw how to integrate external functionality to process payments from your customers. In this chapter, you ll learn new possibilities for integrating features from an external source through a Web Service. A Web Service is a piece of functionality that is exposed through a web interface using standard Internet protocols such as HTTP The messages . exchanged by the client and the server are encoded using an XML-based protocol named SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) or by using REST (Representational State Transfer). These messages are sent over HTTP. You ll learn more about these technologies a bit later. The beauty of using Web Services is that the client and the server can use any technology, any language, and any platform. As long as they exchange information with a standard protocol such as SOAP over HTTP, there is no problem if the client is a cell phone, and the server is a Java application running on Solaris, for example. The possibilities are exciting, and we recommend you purchase a book that specializes in Web Services to discover more about their world. Have a look at the list of public Web Services at http://www.xmethods.net/ to get an idea of the kinds of external functionality you can integrate into your application. In this chapter, you ll learn how to integrate the Amazon E-Commerce Service (ECS; Web Services interface provided by Amazon.com, formerly known as Amazon Web Services AWS) to sell Amazon.com products through your HatShop web site. You already have an e-commerce web site that sells hats to its customers. You can go further and make some more money from their passion for hats by incorporating some other kinds of hats-related gifts from Amazon.com into your site. For free Oh no . . . You ll display Amazon.com s details on your site, but the final checkout will be processed by Amazon.com, and Amazon.com will deliver in your bank account a small commission fee for purchases made from your web site. Sounds like easy money, doesn t it In this chapter, you ll learn how to use ECS to add a special department called Amazon Super Hats to your web store, which you can see in Figure 17-1. This will be a special department in that it will be handled differently from others for example, payment is handled directly by Amazon when the visitor wants to buy a product. This chapter explores just a small subset of ECS s capabilities, so if you really want to make a fortune from this service, you should dig deeper to find more substance.
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CH A P TER 17 CO NN ECT IN G TO WEB SERV IC ES
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Figure 17-1. Integrating the Amazon Super Hats department into HatShop The rest of the chapter is divided into two parts. In the first part, you ll learn how to access the Amazon E-Commerce Service (ECS); in the second part, you ll integrate ECS into the HatShop web site.
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Ti p The code in this chapter is independent of the rest of the site, so all you need to get started integrating Amazon functionality is the code from the first four chapters (so you have a working product catalog). Of course, with minor adjustments you can also adapt this code to your own personal solutions.
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C H AP T ER 17 CO N NEC TI NG TO WE B SE RVI CES
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Accessing the Amazon E-Commerce Service
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Most service providers (including Amazon.com) use SOAP or REST (or both) to expose Web Services to Internet client programs. You can choose to make a Web Service request by using either REST or SOAP, and you get the exact same results with both options. In this chapter, you ll learn how to access ECS 4.0 using both REST and SOAP. REST (Representational State Transfer) uses carefully crafted URLs with specific namevalue pairs to call specific methods on the servers. You can find two useful articles about REST at http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2004/08/11/rest.html and http://www.onlamp.com/ pub/a/php/2003/10/30/amazon_rest.html. REST is considered to be the easiest way to communicate with the Web Services that expose this interface. Nonofficial sources say that 85% of ECS clients went the REST way. When using REST, all you have to do to perform an Amazon search is to make a classical HTTP GET request, and you ll receive the response in XML format. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is an XML-based standard for encoding the information transferred in a Web Service request or response. SOAP is fostered by a number of organizations, including powerful companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Sun. When accessing ECS, you can send the request either through REST or by sending a SOAP message. The Web Service will return an XML response with the data you requested. You ll learn more about REST and SOAP by playing with ECS.
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N ote You need to understand that in this chapter we ll touch just a bit of the functionality provided by the
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Amazon ECS. A serious discussion on the subject would probably need a separate book, but what you ll see in this chapter is enough to get you on the right track. Also, be aware that in this chapter we integrate functionality from Amazon.com, but using the same Amazon ECS account, you can access services from Amazon.fr, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.jp, and Amazon.co.uk.
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