Published Jun 16, 2022
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WSDL (Web Services Description Language) is a specification for an XML document that describes a web service. A WSDL document is a machine-readable description of how a service can be called, what parameters it expects, and what type of data structures are returned by it. WSDL Version 2.0 was released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2007, but support for this version of the specification is still poorly implemented, with much web development software only supporting WSDL Version 1.1.

WSDL documents are usually constructed and read by web development software, and developers don’t often need to interact with these files directly.


A WSDL document is made up of the following elements:

  • <definitions>: The root element defining the name of the service, declares namespaces used in the document, and contains all the other elements.
  • <types>: The data types used in the form of XML schemas.
  • <message>: Description of the data exchanged between the web service and its consumers.
  • <portType>: Combines multiple messages to form a complete transaction.
  • <operation>: A single request/response operation defined within a <portType>.
  • <binding>: Defines the specific details on how a <portType> operation is actually transmitted.
  • <port>: An individual endpoint address for a binding.
  • <service>: Defines the collection of ports supported by the web service.
  • <documentation>: Human-readable comments that can be included within any other WSDL element.


The structure of a WSDL document looks like this:

    description of types...

    description of a message...

      description of an operation...

    description of a binding...

    description of a service...

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