UPnP, Web services, and Rendezvous

UPnP, Web services, and Rendezvous

A few of us InfoWorlders spoke yesterday with one of Microsoft's Indigo architects, John Shewchuk. In the course of our conversation, Shewchuk mentioned the recent WinHEC announcement about device support for Web services protocols, reported in InfoWorld on May 5:

Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Lexmark International Inc. and Ricoh Co. Ltd. on Tuesday detailed new Web services technology designed to make it easier for users to connect devices such as printers, digital cameras and digital music players over a network. The companies at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) officially announced a Devices Profile for Web services, which describes how devices should use Web services protocols. The announcement builds on WS-Discovery, a Web services specification that Microsoft, Intel, Canon Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. introduced in February. WS-Discovery describes a way for devices to find and connect to Web services. [InfoWorld.com: Web services find way to devices]

The “Devices Profile” will be proposed to the UPnP (universal plug and play) as the basis of the UPnP 2.0 Device Architecture.

Shewchuk sees this as a “singularity”:

There is nothing different about the Web services on a printer, than the Web services at Amazon. That's mind-blowing. And it means the same Visual Studio tool that I pick up to do my cross-enterprise application, I can now point at my printer. And the same reliable messaging protocol that makes sure my information gets to Amazon also makes sure that I don't drop packets when I'm moving from room to room on WiFi sending a print job.

It's a strong argument. The odd man out in this scenario appears to be Rendezvous, as several folks have pointed out. Of course Canon and HP and the rest have implemented Rendezvous as well. I'm not sure what kinds of mapping and/or layering might make sense here, but ideally this won't turn out to be an either/or scenario. It'd be sweet to hit Rendezvous services in OS X, Zeroconf services on Windows, and devices, all from a SOAP-aware scripting language.

Update: I got to wondering about cross-platform Rendezvous, and that led me to Porchdog Software's Spike, a dynamically-discoverable network clipboard for both Windows and OS X. Spike, which Just Works, is built on Porchdog's Howl, an open-source SDK that brings Zeroconf/Rendezvous capabilities to Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD. Very cool. [John Udell's Weblog]

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