An expert has dismissed the idea that there's a web services war saying that there's little conflict between SOAP-based WS-* services against REST services.

Jean Paoli, general manager of interoperability at the company and also a pioneer in the development of XML, was dismissive of any assertion that the two web services strains are in some sort of battle. REST, however, has gained adherents lately, such as Ruby on Rails builder David Heinemeier Hansson, who have shown disdain for what they see as the complexity of WS-* specifications

Hansson and others even have mockingly called the specifications "ws death star," referring to the enemy battle station in "Star Wars." Developers in charge of the Rails framework switched emphasis from SOAP to REST services in version 2.0 of Rails in 2007.

But Paoli described the situation as "overblown," stressing developers can make choices.

"You use as much as you need from any standard," he said. For simple web services, developers can use REST. For more complex needs, they can use WS-* services, he said. The WS-* palette of specifications features capabilities in areas such as security and reliable messaging.

Microsoft supports REST in technologies such as its Windows Communication Foundation for web services and its Windows Azure Storage Services for cloud computing.

Paoli and Craig Shank, general manager of interoperability strategy at Microsoft, emphasised various interoperability efforts at Microsoft ranging from document format work and collaborating on standards bodies to working with Novell on enabling Microsoft's Silverlight rich media technology to run on Linux. The company also has assisted in such efforts as development of a PHP software development kit for Azure.

Microsoft has launched a website entitled Interoperability Bridges & Lab Center, detailing links between Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.

"As a practical matter, we have a wide range of people who work on and are focused on interoperability," Shank said.