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Chapter 6. Amazon Web Services > What Are Web Services?

6.2. What Are Web Services?

Web Services are essentially nothing new. They've existed in various forms ever since research groups and businesses started networking online to exchange data. These machine-readable requests were built on an ad hoc basis with whatever tools were standard in the companies at the time, and then replaced or obfuscated with layer upon layer, hack upon hack. This was a rather costly and not particularly pretty state of affairs; furthermore, each Web Service was unique and not easily adaptable or interoperable with additional parties and other services.

Perhaps the first truly "Web" service was a combination of spidering and scraping. The Web introduced a presentation markup language called HTML, which allowed you to represent data in a form that was readable by a web browser and that was, for the most part, pleasing to the person browsing. By scraping (reading between the bits of HTML markup), you could get to the underlying data; by doing so programmatically (spidering), you could automate this process.


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