In the current age of Service Oriented Architectures, more and more people are using Web Services to connect previously unconnected systems. Initially, Web services were considered to be just another way to do a Remote Procedure Call (RPC). Over time however, people found out that there is a big difference between RPCs and Web services. Especially when interoperability with other platforms is important, it is often better to send encapsulated XML documents, containing all the data necessary to process the request. Conceptually, XML-based Web services are better off being compared to message queues rather than remoting solutions. Overall, XML should be considered the platform-neutral representation of data, the interlingua of SOA. When developing or using Web services, the focus should be on this XML, and not on Java.
Spring Web Services focusses on creating these document-driven Web services. Spring Web Services facilitates contract-first SOAP service development, allowing for the creation of flexible web services using one of the many ways to manipulate XML payloads. Spring-WS provides a powerful message dispatching framework, various XML marshalling techniques that can be used outside a Web service environment, a WS-Security solution that integrates with your existing application security solution, and a Client-side API that follows the familiar Spring template pattern.
This document provides a reference guide to Spring-WS's features. Since this document is still a work-in-progress, if you have any requests or comments, please post them on the support forums at http://forum.springframework.org/forumdisplay.php?f=39.