The WSIT Tutorial

How Message Optimization Works

Message optimization ensures that web services messages are transmitted over the Internet in the most efficient manner. Because XML is a textual format, binary files must be represented using character sequences before they can be embedded in an XML document. A popular encoding that permits this embedding is known as base64 encoding, which corresponds to the XML Schema data type xsd:base64Binary. In a web services toolkit that supports a binding framework, a value of this type must be encoded before transmission and decoded before binding. The encoding and decoding process is expensive and the costs increase linearly as the size of the binary object increases.

Message optimization enables web service endpoints to identify large binary message payloads, remove the message payloads from the body of the SOAP message, encode the message payloads using an efficient encoding mechanism (effectively reducing the size of the payloads), re-insert the message payloads into the SOAP message as attachments (the file is linked to the SOAP message body by means of an Include tag). Thus, message optimization is achieved by encoding binary objects prior to transmission and then de-encoding them when they reach there final destination.

The optimization process is really quite simple. To effect optimized message transmissions, the sending endpoint checks the body of the SOAP message for XML encoded binary objects that exceed a predetermined size and encodes those objects for efficient transmission over the Internet.

SOAP MTOM, paired with the XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP), addresses the inefficiencies related to the transmission of binary data in SOAP documents. Using MTOM and XOP, XML messages are dissected in order to transmit binary files as MIME attachments in a way that is transparent to the application. This transformation is restricted to base64 content in canonical form as defined in XSD Datatypes as specified in XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes Second Edition, W3C Recommendation 28 October 2004.

Thus, the WSIT technology achieves message optimization through an implementation of the MTOM and XOP specifications. With the message optimization feature enabled, small binary objects are sent in-line in the SOAP body. For large binary objects, this becomes quite inefficient, so the binary object is separated from the SOAP body, encoded, sent as an attachment to the SOAP message, and decoded when it reaches its destination endpoint.