Oct 272014
Article Java

WSDL (Web Services Description Language) is the W3C specification for the implementation of web services offered by servers to remote clients using the HTTP transport protocol.

A service is implemented starting with a WSDL document that defines the services offered by the server and how to access them.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is the specification of the XML format that is used in the messages sent/received by clients and servers.

This post is a tutorial on the implementation of a simple example web service conformant to the SOAP/WSDL standard.

1. Defining the service – WSDL document

In our tutorial, we will be implementing a service “ArithmeticService”, that can be used by clients to request two operations: “add” and “subtract”.

A client will issue a request to the server, sending a message that specifies the desired operation, and the operands (two floating point numbers).

The server will send back the response, that will include the result of the operation as a single floating point number.

The first step in the implementation of the service is the elaboration of a WSDL document with the formal definition of the service described above.

1.1. Defining the structure of the messages exchanged between client and server

The first type of message is “ArithmeticRequest”. This is the mesage that the client will sent to the server to request an operation. In our sample service, the client must send two numeric operands “operand1” and “operand2”. In WSDL, this type of message is defined as:

The message that the server will send back to the client in response to the request must also be defined as a “ArithmeticResponse” message. The message will carry a single numeric value:

1.2. Defining the request types accepted by the server

In our example service, the server will accept request for two operations “add” and “subtract”. These operations need also to be formally defined in WSDL. For each operation, the input and output message types are specified as follows:

1.3. Defining the format of the messages

For each of the operations in the service, the WSDL document must include the specification of the encoding format used in the messages.

In our example service, all input and output messages will use SOAP format.

This is specified in the document in a <binding> element, as shown:

1.4. Defining the service access points

Finally, the URLs  that the client will use to access the service must be specified in <port> elements inside a <service> element.

In our example, a single url “http://example.com/test/wsdl/arithmetic_server” will be used to issue requests to the server.

The definition in the WSDL document is:

1.4. Complete WSDL document

All of the elements of the WSDL document that have been explained above must go inside a <definitions> element. A set of attributes in the <definitions> element point to the base XML, WSDL and SOAP specifications employed.

The final content of the WSDL document “ArithmeticService.wsdl” is:

2. Implementing the service

In most cases, the service is implemented inside a Java container (Tomcat, Jetty,…) running in a Apache web server.

In this post we will assume that a Tomcat/Apache environment to perform the installation of the WSDL/SOAP service is already available.

2.1. Installing AXIS2

AXIS2 is a Java library that implements all the functionality required for the development of a WSDL web service.

The installation packages can be downloaded from the AXIS downloads page. From that page, we download the standard binary distribution package axis2-1.6.2-bin.zip (20 MB), and extract the content under the directory /opt/axis2-1.6.2.

Next, the environment variable AXIS2_HOME is defined in the profile of the user that will be used for the development of the service, pointing to the installation directory:

Alternatively, the file /opt/axis2-1.6.2/bin/setenv.sh can be run to prepare the environment

Again, from the AXIS download page, the WAR installation package”axis2-1.6.2-war.zip” (18.2 MB) is downloaded, and extracted under the Tomcat webapps directory (/usr/share/tomcat7/webapps in a default Tomcat installation)

To verify that the AXIS application has been correctly installed, point the browser to the URL http://localhost:8080/axis2:


Optionally, we can click on the “Validate” link to access a page that displays the results of a set of validation tests of the installation.

2.2. Developing the ArithmeticService service

First, a directory “ArithmeticService” is created to contain the development of the service. Under it, the file “ArithmeticService.wsdl” is created with the content of the wsdl document as shown in point 1.4. of this post.

Next, the development environment is generated using the ‘wsdl2java’ utility included in the axis package:

(Note: You may need to define the environment variable JAVA_HOME pointing to the root of the Java JDK first)

Next, “ant” is executed to compile the application

“ant” generates a file “build/lib/ArithmeticService.aar”, that is moved under the axis2 “services” directory to deploy the service:

After moving the .aar file, the URL “http://localhost:8080/axis2/services/listServices” can be loaded in the browser, to verify that “ArithmeticService” appears in the list of available services:



2.3. Coding the functionality of the service

Naturally, the java code that implements the desired functionality of the “add” and “subtract” operations still needs to be coded.

The wsdl2java utility created a file “src/arithmetic/ArithmeticServiceSkeleton.java” with the definitions of the methods “add” and “subtract”. these methods need to be edited to include the code that implements the operations.

For instance, inside the skeleton, we can locate the definition of the method “add”:

As can be seen, the return value of method “add” is of class “AddResponse”. This class is defined in the file “src/arithmetic/AddResponse.java” that has been also generated by wsdl2java. In the same way, the argument of the method “add” is of class “arithmetic.Add”. The definition of that class can be found in the file “src/arithmetic/Add.java”.

After looking at the method definitions in those files, we can proceed to write the code that implements the desired functionality (adding the two operands) inside the “add” method:

The “subtract” method in the skeleton can be edited in the same way.

After the skeleton has been edited, the “.aar” file can be generated again and copied to the Tomcat container:

2.4. Testing the functionality of the service

To verify that the service is operational, we need to write a client that calls the service, and check that the responses are as expected.

To develop the client, we can use again the wsdl2java utility, passing the “-s” option to the call:

Option “-s” tells wsdl2java to create a file “src/arithmetic/ArithmeticServiceStub.java”, that can be used as a base to write the client.

Next, the client itself is written in a file “src/arithmetic/ArithmeticClient.java”, with the following content:

Next, the client is compiled with “ant”, and executed with “axis2.sh” (axis2.sh is an utility included in the axis package that adds to the CLASSPATH all the required libraries, before running the client on the java VM).

In the generated output we can verify that the service works as expected, returning the result of the addition of the two operands.


AXIS2 Documentation

 Posted by at 7:01 pm

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