I realize that technology rarely works the way it is supposed to, and so I was not the least bit phased by the trouble that was experienced setting up Tomcat and Axis in class. It really doesn't seem terribly difficult. The reason I'm choosing not to use Java with the web service assignment is because I would like to learn something new.
So far I've tinkered around a little bit with installing Ruby and InstantRails. I don't think I've been able to set it up successfully yet. I haven't spent loads of time on it, but enough to realize that it is not cake.
I've also installed Visual Studio 2005 to try out the .NET way of creating a web service. I've also ran into some barriers there, and it is not as easy to understand as one would hope. Nonetheless it looks like a very powerful application, and so I think I'm going to pursue it a little bit more, along with Ruby and see which one takes me where I need to go quicker.