First impressions on Zend_Soap and a basic implementation

The Zend Framework release candidate for version 1.6 includes a new component for SOAP operations. Zend_Soap_Server/Client extend the PHP functionality of the SOAPClient and SOAPServer objects, which by itself is trivial. The more important functionality it ads to the package is the AutoDiscovery Component.

Generally you can use SOAP in the so called “non-wsdl” mode, that is if you specify the correct options like the soap service location and uri, you don’t need any description of the service for the clients. This is only useful if you’re using the SOAP Service internally since you then know about all the available functions and methods. If you want to offer the Service for external users you want to use the WSDL-mode: Generate a WSDL that describes the services available methods, their parameters and return types is an important task.

Using Zend_Soap_AutoDiscover you can generate your WSDL file automatically by reflecting on the given Service Class methods. This works as follows. We setup a simple service:

class HelloWorldService
     * @return string
    public function helloWorld()
        return "Hello World!";

     * @return array
    public function getFruits()
        return array('apple', 'orange', 'banana');

It is important that you specify the Doc Comments @param and @return otherwise the AutoDiscovery of the correct parameter and return types cannot be resolved. We will now setup a simple SOAP Server access point, that will also generate our WSDL file for description of this HelloWorld service:

require_once "HelloWorldService.php";
require_once "Zend/Soap/Server.php";
require_once "Zend/Soap/AutoDiscover.php";

if(isset($_GET['wsdl'])) {
    $autodiscover = new Zend_Soap_AutoDiscover();
} else {

    $soap = new Zend_Soap_Server("http://localhost/soapserver.php?wsdl"); // this current file here

Now we have our SOAP Service up and running and any client can access the HelloWorldService class from a remote or local location with just this simple lines:

require_once "Zend/Exception.php";
require_once "Zend/Soap/Client.php";

try {
    $client = new Zend_Soap_Client("http://localhost/soapserver.php?wsdl"); // Servers WSDL Location
    $string =  $client->helloWorld();
    $fruits = $client->getFruits();

} catch(Zend_Exception $e) {
    echo $e->getMessage();

This is easy. Additionally Zend_Soap offers a WSDL class to generate your own WSDL file based on your special preferences, which is a nice feature. I guess only some people can write a correct WSDL XML specification file on their own from scratch, so using a powerful helper is reasonable.

The usage of Zend_Soap is quite simple and straightforward as is PHP5’s internal SOAP Service and might therefore gain widespread use. I have never tested PEAR’s WSDL Autodiscovery, so i cannot draw comparisons.

More about: ZendFramework / SOAP

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