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What is WSDL in Web Services

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WSDL Enters

A WSDL document is just a simple XML document.

It contains set of definitions to describe a web service.

WSDL document fulfills all the above requirements

  • Requirement 1 – Where is the service hosted    
  • Requirement 2 – What protocol to use to talk to the service             
  • Requirement 3 – What are the operations             
  • Requirement 4 – What are the parameters             
  • Requirement 5 – What is the data type of the messages
Table of Content - What is WSDL in Web Services

➤ Introducing WSDL

➤ WSDL Document Structure

➤ WSDL Ports

➤ Operation Types

➤ WSDL Messages

➤ WSDL Bindings

Introducing WSDL

  • WSDL stands for Web Services Description Language
  • WSDL is written in XML
  • WSDL is used to describe Web services
  • WSDL is also used to locate Web services
  • WSDL is a W3C recommendation

WSDL Document Structure

WSDL Document Structure

WSDL Ports

  • The element is the most important WSDL element.
  • It describes a web service, the operations that can be performed, and the messages that are involved.
  • The element can be compared to a function library (or a module, or a class) in a traditional programming language

WSDL Ports

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Operation Types

Type                                     Definition
One-way                              The operation can receive a message but will not return a response
Request-response               The operation can receive a request and will return a response
Solicit-response                   The operation can send a request and will wait for a response
Notification                           The operation can send a message but will not wait for a response

One-way operation type        

 The operation can receive a message but will not return a response

One-way operation type

 Request-response operation type

The operation can receive a request and will return a response

Request-response operation type

Now, a web service operation can take only one parameter.  But I want to pass multiple parameters……what do I need to do

WSDL Messages

  • The element defines the data elements of an operation.
  • Each message can consist of one or more parts. The parts can be compared to the parameters of a function call in a traditional programming language.

WSDL Messages

I want to pass a complex object to my web service……what do I need to do

WSDL Types

  • The element defines the data type that are used by the web service.
  • For maximum platform neutrality, WSDL uses XML Schema syntax to define data types.

WSDL Types

I want my web service to be accessible to a HTTP client, as well as to a RMI client and a SOAP client……what do I need to do

WSDL Bindings

The element defines the message format and protocol details for each port.

WSDL Bindings

WSDL Bindings 1


  • name – can be anything
  • Type – points to port


  • Style – rpc or document
  • Transport – soap protocol to use


  • Defines each operation the the service exposes

WSDL Bindings

  • The element provides specific details on how a portType operation will actually be transmitted over the wire.
  • The bindings can be made available via multiple transports, including HTTP GET, HTTP POST, or SOAP.
  • The bindings provide concrete information on what protocol is being used to transfer portType operations.
  • For SOAP protocol, the binding is , and the transport is SOAP messages on top of HTTP protocol.
  • WSDL 1.1 includes built-in extensions for SOAP 1.1. This enables you to specify SOAPspecific details, including SOAP headers, SOAP encoding styles, and the SOAPAction HTTP header. The SOAP extension elements include:
  • soap:binding
  • soap:operation
  • soap:body
  • You can specify multiple bindings for a single portType.

WSDL Services

The element connects the binding to an actual URL where the service is available.

WSDL Services

A service element describes a Web service as a collection of port elements. A port element defines a specific network address for a binding. The sample below shows the basic outline of a service that supplies an address for a SOAP binding:

The ServiceName sets the name of the service. The PortName sets the name of the specific address. The BindingRef refers to the name of a binding element. The BindingRef must be namespace qualified if the targetNamespace for the WSDL definitions element is not the same as the default namespace.


binding element


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Last updated: 30 September 2023
About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Content Lead at Mindmajix.com. His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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