Using SOAP::Lite With Perl

I’ve been trying to access a SOAP service using Perl for a project, so I took a quick look at CPAN to see what was available. The answer seemed to be to use SOAP::Lite.

This module turned out to be a real devil to use, and my problems with it were probably compounded by my lack of SOAP experience.

SOAP (incase you didn’t know) is a method of accessing remote services using XML. In my case, I was trying to access content supplied by a third party ringtone provider using SOAP over HTTP.

Using SOAP::Lite you have to specify a uri and a proxy. What stumped me for a while is that the proxy is the URI of service you wish to access, and uri is the namespace of the service.

So if the provider I was using had their SOAP service available at ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx, I would use this as the proxy, and in this case I would use ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External as the urinamespace.

Great, I knew the service I needed was called getCallList, and required a Username and Password to be passed to it. In return it would give me a list of valid content types. The SOAPAction header to be added to the call to proxy, letting the remote SOAP service I wanted to use the service http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External/getCallList.

My first attempt was the following code…

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use SOAP::Lite 'trace', 'debug';
my $server = SOAP::Lite
->uri('http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External')
->proxy('http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx');
my $returned = $server
->getCallList({
'Username' => 'RobsUser',
'Password' => 'RobsPassword'
});
foreach my $type ($returned->valueof('//getCallListResult/string')) {
next unless ($type); ## ignore any undefs
print "$type\n";
}

You’ll notice I’m using trace and debug to see the SOAP messages being sent and received. The dialogue from this script was…

> perl -w test.pl
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: POST http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/xml
Accept: multipart/*
Content-Length: 615
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
SOAPAction: "http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External#getCallList"
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:SOAP-ENC="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema" SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:SOAP-ENV="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"><SOAP-ENV:Body><namesp1:getCallList xmlns:namesp1="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><c-gensym3><Username xsi:type="xsd:string">RobsUser</Username><Password xsi:type="xsd:string">RobsPassword</Password></c-gensym3></namesp1:getCallList></SOAP-ENV:Body></SOAP-ENV:Envelope>
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: HTTP/1.1 500 (Internal Server Error) Internal Server Error.
Cache-Control: private
Connection: close
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:23:38 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
Content-Length: 508
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
Client-Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:23:09 GMT
Client-Response-Num: 1
X-AspNet-Version: 1.1.4322
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
<soap:Body>
<soap:Fault>
<faultcode>soap:Client</faultcode>
<faultstring>Server did not recognize the value of HTTP Header SOAPAction: http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External#getCallList.</faultstring>
<detail />
</soap:Fault>
</soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The call didn’t work, you’ll see the SOAPAction variable is wrong, it’s http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External#getCallList instead of http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External/getCallList.

I needed to get SOAP::Lite to use the correct URL. The secret turned out to be to change the use SOAP::Lite line to the following.

use SOAP::Lite on_action =*gt; sub {sprintf '%s/%s', @_},
'trace', 'debug';

on_action is a parameter SOAP::Lite uses to separate the URI from the action, here we’re telling it to use /.

This gave me the following SOAP dialogue…

> perl -w test.pl
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: POST http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/xml
Accept: multipart/*
Content-Length: 615
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
SOAPAction: http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External/getCallList
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:SOAP-ENC="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema" SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:SOAP-ENV="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"><SOAP-ENV:Body><namesp1:getCallList xmlns:namesp1="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><c-gensym3><Username xsi:type="xsd:string">RobsUser</Username><Password xsi:type="xsd:string">RobsPassword</Password></c-gensym3></namesp1:getCallList></SOAP-ENV:Body></SOAP-ENV:Envelope>
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private, max-age=0
Connection: close
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:22:53 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
Content-Length: 405
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
Client-Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:22:25 GMT
Client-Response-Num: 1
X-AspNet-Version: 1.1.4322
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"><soap:Body><getCallListResponse xmlns="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><getCallListResult><string xsi:nil="true" /></getCallListResult></getCallListResponse></soap:Body></soap:Envelope>

Bugger, it still didn’t work. I looked again at the SOAP message being sent. It was sending a lot of namespace information and a wrapper around the Username and Password. The wrapper was definitely wrong, and the remote .NET service didn’t seem to like the namespaces.

I needed to sort that out, so I had to tell SOAP::Lite to not to include namespaces or wrap up the Username and Password. The way to do this is to use SOAP::Data to hardcode the data being sent.

This meant changing the call to getCallList to the following…

my $returned = $server
->getCallList(
SOAP::Data->name('Username')->value('RobsUser')->type(''),
SOAP::Data->name('Password')->value('RobsPassword')->type('')
);

The SOAP dialogue after these changes looked like this..

SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: POST http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/xml
Accept: multipart/*
Content-Length: 548
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
SOAPAction: http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External/getCallList
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:SOAP-ENC="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema" SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:SOAP-ENV="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"><SOAP-ENV:Body><namesp1:getCallList xmlns:namesp1="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><Username>RobsUser</Username><Password>RobsPassword</Password></namesp1:getCallList></SOAP-ENV:Body></SOAP-ENV:Envelope>
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private, max-age=0
Connection: close
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:19:49 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
Content-Length: 405
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
Client-Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:19:21 GMT
Client-Response-Num: 1
X-AspNet-Version: 1.1.4322
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"><soap:Body><getCallListResponse xmlns="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><getCallListResult><string xsi:nil="true" /></getCallListResult></getCallListResponse></soap:Body></soap:Envelope>

Close, but still not right. The problem was with the getCallList itself, it was still trying to use a namespace.

The final solution was to this problem was to not use getCallList, but instead to use SOAP::Lite’s call method to implicitly set how the function was being called.

The code after making this change was the following…

my $returned = $server
->call(SOAP::Data->name('getCallList')->attr({xmlns => 'http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External'}) =>
SOAP::Data->name('Username')->value('RobsUser')->type(''),
SOAP::Data->name('Password')->value('RobsPassword')->type('')
);

This gave me the SOAP dialogue…

> perl -w test_soap.pl
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: POST http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/external.asmx HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/xml
Accept: multipart/*
Content-Length: 524
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
SOAPAction: http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External/getCallList
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:SOAP-ENC="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/1999/XMLSchema" SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/encoding/" xmlns:SOAP-ENV="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"><SOAP-ENV:Body><getCallList xmlns="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><Username>RobsUser</Username><Password>RobsPassword</Password></getCallList></SOAP-ENV:Body></SOAP-ENV:Envelope>
SOAP::Transport::HTTP::Client::send_receive: HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private, max-age=0
Connection: close
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:16:07 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
Content-Length: 540
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
Client-Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:15:39 GMT
Client-Response-Num: 1
X-AspNet-Version: 1.1.4322
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"><soap:Body><getCallListResponse xmlns="http://ws.robstones-services.co.uk/External"><getCallListResult><string>ROBS_JAVA</string><string>ROBS_WALL</string><string>ROBS_POLY</string><string>ROBS_MONO</string><string>ROBS_REAL</string><string xsi:nil="true" /></getCallListResult></getCallListResponse></soap:Body></soap:Envelope>
ROBS_JAVA
ROBS_WALL
ROBS_POLY
ROBS_MONO
ROBS_REAL

Hurrah, after all that effort, I have a list of 5 types of content offered by my third party supplier. I can now go ahead and build my service.

SOAP::Lite is a powerful module, but the lack of simple, easy to follow documentation and examples holds it back. I hope this small article helps out other programmers just starting on the SOAP path.

3 Responses to “Using SOAP::Lite With Perl”

  1. NJ

    This article helped me a lot. I did not know much about SOAP and lack of documentation on SOAP::Lite had me running in circles. However, your solution for on_action to be formatted properly did not work for me. I ended up searching more and found some useful document on this website.
    http://guide.soap

    I ended up formatting on_action like this :

    my $server = SOAP::Lite
    ->uri($uri)
    ->on_action( sub { sprintf ‘”%s%s”‘, @_} )
    ->proxy($proxy);

    Reply
  2. Michael

    Thank you so much for writing this post. That sprintf line finally allowed me to see what was holding the request up.

    Reply
  3. AJ

    Thanks, this was a great article, helped me a lot. Part of what helped me join the dots for the uri, proxy, xmlns was to view the web service method and compare that to the soap header generated by the perl program and fix the errors I had made.

    Reply

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