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Web-service Based Information Integration for e-Mortgage Contract Matchmaking Decision Support: A Case Study in Hong Kong Gordon K.T. Lau1, Dickson K.W. Chiu2, Senior Member, IEEE, and Patrick C. K. Hung3 1 Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 2 Dickson Computer Systems, Hong Kong 3 Faculty of Business and Information Technology, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Canada email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract from heterogeneous sources. When significant contracts are involved, gathering such information is particularly Effective decision making often requires disparate infor- slow and inefficient. This particularly puts the consumers mation from heterogeneous sources. When significant con- in an adverse position because large financial enterprises tracts are involved, gathering such information is particu- are much more equipped and informed with various deci- larly slow and inefficient. As real estate business plays an sion support and information systems.. important role in Hong Kong economy, there is a strong Mortgage contracts are particularly sophisticated in or- need for a handy and efficient service to assist the mort- der to stratify the unique requirements of both the custom- gage searching activities. Presently, a property buyer ers and the financial institutions. To elaborate, each cus- lacks of the mortgage information for the interested prop- tomer has individual needs for the mortgage and payment erty when making the purchase decision. Many buyers can contract even for the same property because of the indi- only search for the property mortgage after a down pay- vidual’s financial health and personal preference. On the ment is made because of keen competitions in purchasing. other hand, each financial institution would offer different However, sometimes the bank cannot offer the mortgage mortgage contracts to different customers even for the plan as the buyer expected because of the buyer’s finan- same property based on its risk management, different cial status, property valuation, and price trend. Therefore, customer assessment methodologies, and different market- we study on the requirements of an e-Mortgage Contract ing strategies. Matchmaking Service (EMS) for offering it in the form of a Currently, the mortgage searching process is tedious Web service via real estate agencies to the buyers. The and time-consuming for customers. They are responsible EMS can be incorporated into the agency’s property man- for searching appropriate mortgage contracts that suit their agement system so that the relevant mortgage information needs. Sometimes, property agencies may provide some (provided by the participant financial institutions) could suggestions and assistances in the mortgage application be revealed when the buyer is making the purchase deci- process; but such help is often trivial in terms of the whole sion. Moreover, the EMS offers mortgage contract evalua- complicated process. To find a suitable mortgage, custom- tion and ranking to assists the prospective buyer earlier in ers need to collect the information of various mortgage the decision-making stage. contracts from different financial institutions, and compare their complex terms either manually or with partially 1. Introduction computerized help. In an ideal case, a customer may man- age to get a suitable mortgage after putting significant time and effort. However, customers often lack of the Nowadays, technology has been playing an important proper financial knowledge or market information for role in many businesses; the need of catching the pace of making decision on their mortgage contract selection. Due technology evolving is becoming very demanding. Effec- to insufficient time or information, many customers tend tive decision making often requires disparate information to settle down on less beneficial or less appropriate mort- 2. Background and Methodology Overview gage contracts. Thus, the current mortgage industry de- mands a new platform making used of new technologies to Hong Kong is one of the most crowded cities in the facilitate the present mortgage matchmaking process and world. The property market has been a vital economic to assist the customer in decision making by ranking the sector in the economy. From the early 90’s, the Hong mortgage information collectively, timely, in a well com- Kong property market raised rocket-high and continued parable format according to the customer’s requirements. this trends till the late 90’s. Although the property market As a strategy in the design, the application model experienced a set back from early 2000, the market has should consist of the following characteristics such as plat- bounced back and developed into a more prosperous and form independent, adjustable searching requirements, in- mature business recently. This has bought about similar ter-machine connectivity, and high extensibility. To ad- positive effects to the mortgage business at the same time. dress these issues, this paper proposes an e-Mortgage Con- In aggregate terms, residential mortgage in Hong Kong in tract Matchmaking Service (EMS) to automate the infor- the 90’s accounted for over 20 per cent of all financial mation integration and matchmaking of mortgage con- institutions. By contrast, this share was only 10 per cent in tracts for customers to make effective decisions and to the early 80’s. On the other hand, outstanding residential minimize the hassles in this process. mortgage as a percentage of GDP rose from 11.4 per cent Web services  provide loosely-coupled stand- in 1984 to 29.2 percent in 1994 . As the mortgage busi- ard interfaces among autonomous systems within and ness became an important component in almost all the among organizations in the form of a set of well-defined financial institutions, they are willing to offer more so- functions for both programming and human user interfac- phisticated terms to meet the customers’ needs. To attract es. In particular, Web services support event-driven in- potential customers, financial institutions tend to design formation integration for timely service provision and in- mortgage contracts with various options such as cash re- teraction . So, the EMS can help the users to search bate, flexible monthly payment plan, and discounted suitable mortgage contracts offered by various financial mortgage rate for a period of time. Moreover, different institutions. The search can be tailor-made according to financial institutions apply different property assessment the customer’s needs, requirements, and preferences. On schemes, which result in different property valuation on the other hand, the financial institutions can propose dif- the same property. With this growing complexity, the ferent terms for customers as a response. In this sense, the knowledge and effort required for customers to choose the system can reduce the amount of time and effort of the right mortgage contract has been enormously increased. In customer in searching for appropriate mortgage contracts Hong Kong, the duration of these mortgages usually lasted as well as help the financial institutions meet potential for 15 to 30 years. Therefore, choosing the right mortgage customers’ need efficiently. Also, the EMS provides com- becomes a very important but difficult problem. parison and ranking function that uses the configurable weights on different mortgage terms and calculates the score of each mortgage offer. This also helps the user filter out those unacceptable offers for more effective decisions. The contributions of this paper are as follows. (i) This paper presents the requirements of the EMS with respect to various stakeholders based on our consultation experi- ences in Hong Kong; (ii) We introduce a meta-model of EMS for the effective design and implementation of the system; (iii) The EMS is equipped with a matchmaking mechanism that facilitates the decision-making process; and (iv) The system implementation architecture makes Figure 1. Typical flow of property acquisition use of the contemporary Web service, which provides Based on our consultation experiences, Figure 1 shows programmatic interactions as well as human user interac- a typical property acquisition flow in Hong Kong. A buyer tion. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section typically searches for a property with the aids from vari- 2 discusses the mortgage business backgrounds and the ous property agencies. After visiting and reviewing a methodology overview. Section 3 discusses the related number of properties repeatedly, the customer finally de- work. Section 4 outlines the e-Mortgage model to address termines his/her choice. Then, the buyer signs a temporary the existing business requirements. Section 5 presents the purchase contract for the selected property and pays the implementation of the model in a Web service context and down-payment, often without any detail mortgage infor- its mechanisms to the searching and matchmaking process. mation from the financial institutions yet. This is because Section 6 concludes the paper with discussions and future buying competition is often keen while the request for work directions. mortgage information is slow and time consuming. The buyer is responsible for searching the mortgage within a son. These channels have to be accurate, timely, conven- certain period of time in order to fulfill the payment re- ient, and secure. Moreover, they prefer to have decision quirement of the purchase contract; otherwise he/she will support for selecting among the complex mortgage con- forfeit the down payment. Also, sometimes the financial tracts. institution may have a lower valuation on a property: this Property Agencies: They are the representatives of the means, the mortgage amount may be insufficient for the property sellers. They provide advice and service to cus- customer to pay the balance amount of the property. If that tomers when selecting properties. As their incomes are exceeds the customer’s financial scope, the customer will mainly the commission generated from property trading, also forfeit the down payment. On the other hand, if the they are willing to offer add-on service to attract and assist customer manages to obtain the mortgage after going customers in property acquisition. Also, they want their through a complicated and tedious process, a formal con- services to be accurate and timely because good services tract can be signed. Then, the customer will start paying most probably help them to attract more customers. the mortgage and the whole property acquisition process is Credit Repository Providers: They are authorities or completed. third party institutions responsible for providing the credit Figure 2 summarizes the stakeholders of the e- history and credit rating to the financial institutions of a Mortgage system (EMS). The system should cater for the given mortgage customer. Their information should not be need and interest of each stakeholder as follows. associated with the interest of any financial institutions and should be unbiased and transported through a secure channel. In summary, the overall characteristics of all the stake- holders in mortgage business are as follows. All stake- holders want their systems to be interoperable but loosely coupled for autonomous operations. They want their sys- tems to be inter-connected to provide add-on services in order to gain a competitive edge. At the same time, they want to preserve the existing legacy systems, which are heavily invested for the past decades and still plays im- portant roles in their existing business processes. They also required a new system, which can offer more auto- mated processes and reduce much manual procedures. In addition, they want to reduce the duration and efforts spent on the mortgage searching and decision-making processes. Figure 2. Stakeholders of EMS Financial Institutions: They are the mortgage provid- ers. They want to have secure channels to reach their po- tential customers directly. Based on the highly competitive mortgage business, they are willing to provide add-on ser- vices to obtain any competitive edge. However, having heavily invested on the existing legacy systems previous- ly, they tend to rely on those legacy systems upon which they build any new application systems. Moreover, as the profit margin of each customer varies, they want to focus on those can generate a high profit margin or have low risks and avoid those less attractive ones who will con- sume the financial institutions’ resources unnecessarily. Customers: They are property buyers and mortgage service applicants. They are looking for mortgage plans that suit their individual financial needs. They need ade- quate and accurate mortgage information from financial Figure 3. Message Flow of EMS institutions when making the property purchasing deci- sion. This also enables them to prepare a better and con- Web service technologies provide a language-neutral, cise financial plan. Also, they prefer to have additional environment-neutral programming model that accelerates channels for searching mortgage services besides the tradi- intra- and inter- enterprise application integration. Appli- tional channel of visiting the financial institutions in per- cation integration through Web services yields flexible loosely coupled business systems. Because Web services gage industry, namely, automated underwriting and are easily applied as a wrapping technology around exist- customer relationship management . ing applications and information technology assets, new Electronic signatures, or “e-signatures,” generally solutions can be deployed quickly and recomposed to ad- refer to any type of signature in electronic form at- dress new opportunities . There are formidable chal- tached to or associated with an electronic document or lenges to ensure rapid, reliable, relevant information ex- record. It is an important tool to reduce the amount of change in an IT environment encompassing both main- paper and streamline the process. E-signatures can al- frames and next-generation, Internet-based system . so help transform the verification process . Many enterprises want to use Web services because it can Security technologies such as document integrity, preserve the security, reliability, and speed of their under- authentication, and authorization are widely adopted lying mainframe assets . Web services, which use open in the mortgage process. There are several technolog- standards to enable Web-based applications to interact with one-another, is a promising integration solution in ical implementations to ensure documents have not this scenario . been tampered with: file creation and modification Figure 3 shows the message exchange flow of the dates, read-only files, password protection, checksum EMS built on the Web service architecture (WSA). It aims methods, watermarking technologies, and public key to connect all participant institutions and presents the cryptography. They can reduce the security risks in mortgage information to the customers in a neat and well- the application process, which are handled by people formed way. As messages adhering to open standards are . employed to communicate between different institutions Document imaging refers to the set of technologies and property agencies, their existing systems such as for converting paper documents into electronic for- mainframes can be retained and reused to provide funda- mat. The process involves scanning or electronically mental support to new valuable services. Also the EMS converting files into high-resolution images, which can provide instant and accurate mortgage information via are saved on a storage media. It helps to reduce the the property agency to the customers, provided that it is paper cost and errors caused by the human processing. integrated with their property management systems. Fi- In the organization connectivity context, some re- nancial institutions are able to tailor-made its mortgage searchers such as Hudson suggest the use of Enterprise contract based on the received customer information and Application Integration (EAI) architecture . Hudson financial strengths. They may even refuse to provide quote continues to suggest that EAI architecture is effective for those customers who are classified as unprofitable or where one or more internal (stovepipe) systems or compo- entitled with poor credit. This can reduce the effort and nents must send data to or enact services on other hetero- time needed to establish a mortgage offer for a property. geneous internal systems or components. However, it is With the term comparing function, the EMS provides always more difficult to implement as the underlying ap- mortgage ranking based on the configurable weights on plications can be built on different technologies such as various criteria to help customers make effective deci- Visual Basic, C++, Java, etc. Also, systems must be totally sions. compatible in the message structures they understand. It usually requires spending weeks to months to develop 3. Related Work such systems. In response to the technological needs of the mortgage Bogdon  reports that technology has so far shown business and the cumbersome nature of real estates trans- the greatest impacts in mortgages servicing, leading to action, Mittal  suggests that Web services technology lower costs and higher labor productivity. Also, the use of allows the buyer, seller, their agents, their mortgage and technology has speeded up the process and improved the title companies, and various other parties such as home efficiency of the mortgage process . In the past three inspectors, property appraisers, notaries, home insurance decades, technology has reduced the costs of storage, agents to interact in order to achieve a better, faster, transmission, and processing of information by 25 to 35 cheaper, and more reliable way of conducting electronic percent annually. This trend is expected to continue . business. Mittal proposes a quick e-marketplace of ser- Given the huge benefits of adopting technology for vices could be formed, where individuals can potentially tackling the business processes in mortgage industry, describe their requirements and allow the entire e- many financial institutions are currently using the follow- marketplace of businesses to bid on their contract. ing technologies: As such, we propose an EMS as a more achievable ap- Intelligent systems are computer systems that can proach to satisfying the current needs of the mortgage learn and perform functions such as decision making, business. The EMS is built upon Service-Oriented Archi- image recognition, and planning. Intelligent systems tecture (SOA), and it offers the following advantages over are currently being used for two purposes in the mort- the current technologies employed in the mortgage indus- try. The EMS connects many different systems which can mortgage contracts to those customers with bad credit run independently of one another on entirely different im- status. plementation platforms and run-time environments with a The Web Service Provider class represents all the ser- set of standard protocols and data formats such as Ex- vice providers such as financial institutions and credit re- tended Markup Language (XML), Web Service Descrip- pository providers. This class will use the information tion Language (WSDL), Simple Object Access Protocol retrieved from the mortgage quote request and try to fill (SOAP), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration the requirement to meet the Web Service providers’ input (UDDI). The EMS is encapsulated as a secure entity and parameters. They class will query the database to find the the only visible part is a Web service as the public inter- relevant Web service provider and then send the formatted face, which can meet the security concern of the industry. request to them. The EMS is a composition of distributed systems of sepa- Once all the reply is received from the financial insti- rate companies to provide strategic business workflow; in tutions’ Web services, the EMS will start to process the return it helps to form a paperless mortgage transaction. returned offers. Sometimes, the system would not receive all the replies from the providers due to network problems, 4. E-Mortgage Conceptual Model service out of order, or other unknown reasons. The EMS is equipped with a time-out mechanism so that it only wait for a period of time to collect all the expected replies be- Mortgage Quote Request fore continuing the process. The Mortgage Quote class represents the entire mort- gage offers from the financial institutions. It contains the mortgage information such as mortgage terms, special offers such as cash rebate or flexible payment plan, prop- erty valuation, and so on. When all the mortgage replies are return or after a deadline, the EMS will use the Rank- ing Rule class to rank the mortgage plan list. The Ranking Rule class consists of information for comparing and ordering the mortgage terms. The ranking Figure 4. UML Class Diagram for EMS criteria can be configured with different weights; in other words, some criteria will be treated as more important than Figure 4 shows the conceptual model of the EMS in a others. Finally, the EMS mortgage will present the offers Class Diagram of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) in a ranked order and help customers choose a best mort- , which depicts the relationship between important gage contract based on their pre-defined criteria. classes. The Mortgage Quote Request class represents the ob- 5. System Design and Implementation jects, which will be created when a mortgage quote for a particular property is presented. This class contains attrib- Figure 5 summarizes the overall system architecture utes such as property information, detail quote information, for the EMS which contains the Web Service Agent, Ap- and other customer information. It also contains the Pref- plication Layer, Ranking Module, and Database Connec- erence, Financial Status, and Credit classes. When a mort- tion Module. We shall detail the important functions of gage quote request object is created, the system has to these components in the following subsections. collect all the relevant information before sending the re- quest to the relevant financial institutions. The Preference class consists of mainly customer pref- erence on the mortgage request. Customers’ preferences may include the length of the mortgage, monthly payment amount, the mortgage provider, and so on. The Financial Status class consists of all the relevant financial informa- tion of a customer. It includes information about the cus- tomer’s monthly income, personal liability, personal as- sets, and so on. The Credit class represents a customer’s credit history. The relevant credit history will be retrieved from the Web service of a third party (such as a Credit Repository). Financial institutions are often willing to of- fer a more attractive mortgage plan to lure customers with good credit status while they offer with a harsh or even no sending to financial institutions since they have different message requirements; and vice versa, the EMS needs to transforms the returned mortgage quotes into EMS data structures using the XSL. Figure 5. System architecture of EMS Figure 7. Sample WSDL of EMS 5.1 Web Service Agent Module Web Service Description Language (WSDL)  is an XML language that contains information about the inter- face, semantics, and administration of a call to a Web ser- vice. It specifies the location of the service and the opera- tions (or methods) the service exposes. The EMS provides a WSDL to all the participant partners to communicate with the system. Figure 7 shows a partial WSDL of the EMS. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) , is an ex- tensible, text-based framework for enabling communica- tion between diverse parties. The EMS acts as a SOAP client and SOAP server at the same time. As a SOAP cli- ent, EMS creates an XML document containing the infor- mation needed to invoke the method from the remote fi- nancial institutions. While the EMS acts as a SOAP serv- er, it listens for the mortgage quote request (SOAP mes- sage) and interpreters the message for later processing. Figure 6. Web Service Operations SOAP message are built on HTTP and XML standards. As a result, SOAP documents are able to traverse almost any Web Services Architecture (WSA) requires three fun- firewall, enabling the exchange of information across di- damental operations (shown in Figure 6): publish, find, vergent platforms. Figure 8 shows some sample SOAP and bind. Service providers publish services to a service messages of the EMS. broker. Service requesters find required services using a service broker and bind to them . The Web Service Agent Module is designed to communicate with other third parties’ Web service interfaces such as financial in- stitutions and credit repository provider. This module makes use of the following technologies like XML, WSDL, and SOAP to be executed within the EMS. XML , as the core syntax within EMS, helps to format the data to be transported within different parties by adopting an agreed XML schema and helps exchange data from various message formats by using eXtended Markup Lan- guage Stylesheet Language (XSL). For example, the Web Service Agent Module needs to transform the same mort- gage quote request message into different formats before Figure 8. Sample SOAP messages 5.2 Application Layer Figure 10. Mortgage quote reply process flow The Application Layer consists of business logic of the in UML activity diagram EMS. This layer controls and monitors the flow and com- munications between different modules. Figure 9 demon- 5.3 Web Service Security strates the typical flow of mortgage quote request process. The EMS performs validation on some of the incoming WS-Security, as the main Web Service security speci- message before passing it to the Web Service Agent mod- fication, describes enhancements to SOAP messaging to ule, which forms the SOAP messages. Also, it communi- provide quality of protection through message integrity, cates with the Database Connection Module to obtain the message confidentiality, and single message authentica- existing mortgage service providers’ information. On the tion. These mechanisms can be used to accommodate a other hand, Figure 10 shows a typical flow of the mort- wide variety of security models and encryption technolo- gage quote reply process. The Application Layer also con- gies . It provides an important foundation layer for trols the Ranking & Decision module to process the re- developers to build more secure and broadly interoperable turned mortgage quote. Web Services. It is a solid, open-standards-based security model . Figure 11. End-to end security context The EMS uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a point-to- point technology to enforce the network level security. For end-to-end security, the EMS adopts the WS-Security standard to ensure the security of its service (See Figure 12). Firstly, the system uses an athentication mechanism to ensure the identities of the service requester and provider. This can be done through passwords or security certificates such as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Secondly, in order to control access to resources, some authorization mechanisms are applied by self-defined access rights, which are controlled by the system’s application layer. Finally, the EMS makes use of data Figure 9. Mortgage quote request flow in UML activity diagram encryption and digital signature techniques to enforce data integrity and data confidentiality. Figure 12 shows a sample XML with security control applied. Figure 13. Sample weight XML Firstly, the EMS will find out the divergence between the customer’s expected and the mortgage plan in terms of the mortgage components. For example, customer Bill receives 2 mortgage offers and these offers just consist of 3 components for the sake of simplicity. Mortgage Offer A Offer B Expected Components Figure 12. XML with security control Interest (%) 5 6 5.5 5.4 Ranking & Decision Making Module Monthly Payment 7000 6000 6500 Amount The ranking and decision-making module is responsi- ble for manipulating the mortgage offers returned from Duration (Months) 120 300 180 different financial institutions to generate a ranking in a logical order. A mortgage plan includes many components Then, the EMS subtracts the offered value from the such as the mortgage amount, mortgage duration, repay- expected value for each component. The following table ment payment, repayment schedule, interest rate, cash shows the result after subtraction. rebate (if any), early mortgage full payment, and so on. A weighting system is designed to appropriately assign im- Mortgage Offer A Offer B portance to each of the components based on the custom- Components er’s ranking towards them. Figure 13 shows a sample XML to illustrate the weighting of some key components. Interest (%) 0.5 (5.5 – 5) -0.5 (5.5 -6) Once the ranking of each mortgage component is defined, Monthly Payment -500 (6500 – 500 (6500- EMS will try to calculate the total score for each mortgage Amount 7000) 6000) plan based on an algorithm with user-supplied weights. Duration (Months) 60 (180-120) -120 (180-300) Say, customer Bill has assigned weights (from 0 to 10, weakest to strongest) to each mortgage component as fol- lows: Mortgage Components Weight Interest (%) 5 Monthly Payment Amount 3 Duration (Months) 10 Then, the EMS will calculate the score for each mort- The major stackholders of EMS are mortgage gage offer by an appropriate formula. A simple one for applicants, property agencies, financial institutions, and illustration purpose is as follows: credit repository providers. As discussed, our approach N can filful their major requirements. The implementation Score = W j=1 j * Vj based on Web Service Architecture (WSA) provides a more efficient channel to communicate among them in the This formula can be expressed in plain English as the business processes, and provides an effective and efficient EMS gets the product of weight and variations for each way to exchange information. WS-Security further ensures mortgage component and then sum up all the products and the security of the Web service. Moreover, Web service find the score for a particular offer. The system repeats technology is a good practice to extend the value of this process for each mortgage offer. The following table current legacy systems. In summary, the EMS achieves is the score for this example. these goals with less paper exchange as well as more automated and accelerated processes. Mortgage Offer A (var- Offer B (vari- Weight Since the EMS currently focuses on the mortgage Component iation) ation) searching and ranking process, a good extension is to work Interest (%) 2.5 -2.5 5 on the further enhancement and automotion of the (0.5 * 5) (-0.5*5) mortgage application workflow. We target the future Monthly -1500 1500 3 system to support the entire mortgage application process in order to reach a state of paperless and all-in-one stop for Payment (-500 * 3) (500 * 3) mortgage applications. To enhance the current built-in Amount raking function, we are experimenting with various Duration 600 -1200 10 ranking formulae. We also plan to extend it into an (Months) (60 * 10) (-120 * 10) intelligent system with the aids of pattern recognition and data mining techniques. Total (Score) -397.5 297.5 Given the advantages offered by Web Services, we propose the EMS to be delivered in two channels, namely, In this example, EMS will rank offer B higher then of- Web-service interface and traditional Web site. The EMS fer A based on their scores. can be deploy as value-added services of large property agencies, as well as an independent service that imposes 6. Discussion and Summary service charges or commission. Further, we are working on abstracting the experience We have conducted a case study on an e-Morgtage gathered from our case study to a higher level Contract Matchmaking Service (EMS) in Hong Kong methodology and meta-model, which employs Web based on our consultation experiences. The current services as a basic infrastructure to facilitate the problem of mortgage acquistions can be described as integration of disparate information required for efficient follows. Mortgage applicants need to go through a long and effective decision support. We aim at the and complicated searching process for mortgage offeres, improvement of various manual decision processes during which a lot of time and effort on many repeated significantly upon such automations in the consumers’ steps is consumed. Besides, complicated mortgage terms perspective. In this way, decision support technologies are always a barrier for many applicants to compare and will no longer be monopolized priviledge only for large select an optimal one. We propose an EMS to solve this enterprises. This not only helps individual consumers but particular problem. The system acts as a Web service also could create value-added services or even new intermediator, which accepts mortgage requests from the business opportunities in automated service consultations clients and formats the requests with a set of pre-defined and brokering. data structure based on the WSDL of other service providers such as credit repository provider and financial institutions. With the mortgage quotes from various References financial institutions, the EMS ranks and presents them to  J. Ganem, "Mainfrane Web Services Development the Easy the client, according to their weight of perferences. 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