XML-RPC is a remote procedure call (RPC) protocol which uses XML to encode its calls and HTTP as a transport mechanism. "XML-RPC" also refers generically to the use of XML for remote procedure call, independently of the specific protocol. This article is about the protocol named "XML-RPC".
XML-RPC, the protocol, was created in 1998 by Dave Winer of UserLand Software and Microsoft. As new functionality was introduced, the standard evolved into what is now SOAP.
The generic use of XML for remote procedure call (RPC) was patented by Phillip Merrick, Stewart Allen, and Joseph Lapp in April 2006, claiming benefit to a provisional application filed in March 1998. The patent is assigned to webMethods, located in Fairfax, VA.
XML-RPC works by sending a HTTP request to a server implementing the protocol. The client in that case is typically software wanting to call a single method of a remote system. Multiple input parameters can be passed to the remote method, one return value is returned. The parameter types allow nesting of parameters into maps and lists, thus larger structures can be transported. Therefore XML-RPC can be used to transport objects or structures both as input and as output parameters.
Identification of clients for authorization purposes can be achieved using popular HTTP security methods. Basic access authentication is used for identification, HTTPS is used when identification (via certificates) and encrypted messages are needed. Both methods can be combined.
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