Web Services in Biology

There are quite a lot of web services in biology that provides various information about genes, pathways, ontology and so on. I found it quite difficult to look for the relevant services. There is a nice portal though, which is called biocatalogue and provides a “curated catalogue of Life Science Web Services”. See biocatalogue website for more information.

So, what is a web services anyway ? From wikipedia, “A Web service is a method of communication between two electronic devices over the World Wide Web. A Web service is a software function provided at a network address over the web or the cloud, it is a service that is “always on” as in the concept of utility computing.”

Generally, it has an interface described in XML format, more precisely, a Web Services Description Language (aka WSDL). Other systems interact with the Web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP messages.

There are two major classes of Web services:

  • REST-compliant Web services, in which the primary purpose of the service is to manipulate XML representations of Web resources
  • arbitrary Web services, in which the service may expose an arbitrary set of operations
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