XML Interface for Network Services

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Developer(s) Online Breedband B.V.
Initial release ?
Written in ?
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in ?
Type Web services
License BSD
Website xins.org

XML Interface for Network Services (XINS) is an open source technology for definition and implementation of internet applications, which enforces a specification-oriented approach.


Specification-oriented approach

The specification-oriented approach is at the heart of XINS:

  • first specifications need to be written;
  • then documentation and code is generated from these specifications;
  • then both testing and implementation can start.

From specifications, XINS is able to generate:

  • HTML documentation
  • test forms
  • SOAP-compliant WSDL
  • a basic Java web application
  • unit test code (in Java)
  • stubs (in Java)
  • client-side code (in Java)

Components of the XINS technology

Technically, XINS is composed of the following:

  • An XML-based specification format for projects, APIs, functions, types and error codes
  • A POX-style RPC protocol (called the XINS Standard Calling Convention), compatible with web browsers (HTTP parameters in, XML out).
  • A tool for generating human-readable documentation, from the specifications.
  • A tool for generating WSDL, from the specifications.
  • A Log4J-based technology for logging (called Logdoc), offering a specification format, internationalization of log messages, generation of HTML documentation and generation of code.
  • A Java library for calling XINS functions, the XINS/Java Client Framework; in xins-client.jar.
  • A server-side container for Java-based XINS API implementations, the XINS/Java Server Framework; in xins-server.jar. This is like a servlet container for XINS APIs.
  • A Java library with some common functionality, used by both the XINS/Java Client Framework and the XINS/Java Server Framework: the XINS/Java Common Library, in xins-common.jar.

An introductory tutorial called the XINS Primer takes the reader by the hand with easy-to-follow steps to perform, with screenshots.

Since version 1.3.0, the XINS/Java Server Framework supports not only POX-style calls, but also SOAP and XML-RPC. And it supports conversion using XSLT. As of version 2.0, it also supports JSON and JSON-RPC.

XINS is open-source and is distributed under the liberal BSD license.


All XINS specification files are Plain Old XML. Compared to SOAP/WSDL/UDDI/etc. the format is extremely simple. There are specifications for projects, environment lists, APIs, functions, types and error codes.

Below is an example of a XINS project definition.

<project name="MyProject" domain="com.mycompany">
  <api name="MyAPI">

Here is an example of a specification of an environment list:

  <environment id="netarray" url="http://xins.users.mcs2.netarray.com/myproject/xins/"/>

An example of an API specification file:

<api name="MyAPI">
  <description>My first XINS API</description>
  <function name="Hello"/>

An example of a function definition:

<function name="Hello">
  <description>Greets the indicated person.</description>
    <param name="name" required="true">
      <description>The name of the person to be greeted.</description>
    <param name="greeting" required="true">
      <description>The constructed greeting.</description>

RPC protocol

The XINS Standard Calling Convention is a simple HTTP-based RPC protocol. Input consists of HTTP parameters, while output is an XML document. This approach makes it compatible with plain Web browsers.

Example of a request:


Example of a successful response:

   <param name="greeting">Hello John Doe!</param>


There are no known products that provide an integrated approach to specification-oriented development, similar to XINS. However, there are several frameworks and libraries that provide functionality similar to individual parts of XINS, including:

External links

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