Here is one of the best articles I have read comparing the various open source web service stacks. Previously I have always referenced this page, which is still an excellent source of information. The author interviews lead developers from each project: Apache Axis2, Apache CXF (previously known as XFire), Spring Web Services, JBoss WS, and Sun's Metro.
First my opinions. Axis1 was one of the first open source stacks available and Axis2 was suppose to be a complete overhaul. From other articles I have read the performance isn't that great and my first use of it wasn't a good experience. I have had really good luck with XFire and really like how it is just a jar that you can include in your WAR. Spring Web Services is really new (they just released version 1.0). I really like the spring products and wouldn't hesitate to try this one. Their documentation is really good and they emphasize a top-down approach (which is honestly the best way, but not the most fun). Not sure why anyone would use JBoss WS if it isn't portable to other containers. Based on their wiki they only state it works in JBoss. Sun's Metro is making a lot of headway and I would recommend it to anyone. It seems to be the most mature in implementing the newer WS-* specifications and boasts the ability to interoperate with .Net services.
Back to the article. Here are some highlights for those not wanting to read the entire article:
- CXF can support returning JSON
- Use SXC to improve JAXB performance.
- Axis2 is the only one supporting WSDL 2.0
- All except Spring-WS and JBossWS implement WS-Addressing and WS-Reliable Messaging
- Metro is the only stack with support for WS-AtomicTransaction and WS-Coordination, which are hooked up to J2EE/Java EE transactions.
- CXF supports REST via annotations similiar to JSR 311. Spring-WS doesn't support REST.