While catching up on blogs, I found a an entry over on Windley's weblog called REST and Hyperlinks. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the title. I hadn't seen the REST before. Being rather well-versed in Web stuff, that surprised me a bit. It shouldn't have (long story). But it made reference to an article that Jon Udell had written for Infoworld (his new employer) a few months back. The article is called Hyperlinks matter.
Jon's article hit a nerve with me--one that I didn't know was there until I read the article. I've always wondered about the various protocols for so-called "Web Services", namely SOAP and XML-RPC. What bothers me is that they're called Web Services in the first place. It feels like there's no Web in them at all. The Web has never been about APIs. It has always been about information (typically documents) and URLs (the addresses of those documents). Over time applications (and URL-based APIs) naturally appeared as folks figured out how to marry databases with Web servers, write CGI scripts in Perl, and then move to things like PHP and Java. But SOAP and XML-RPC have always seemed like they're just trying to piggyback on the fact that port 80 is open on virtually every corporate firewalls. They just feel like a solution to a problem that we really don't quite have yet.
Anyway, after reading Jon's article and mentally nodding my head in agreement, I headed over to visit the other two items that Windley's weblog referenced. In Second Generation Web Services (and part two, REST and the Real World), Paul Prescod presents a compelling argument against the new Web Services standards (UDDI, SOAP, etc). His claim is that the existing HTTP infrastructure and some simple XML would go a long way toward building Web Services with tools and technology that have been around and proven for years already.
I'm inclined to agree with Paul. Having been part of the Internet in one way or another for the last ten years or so, I find that his view of what could be just feels like the right solution--for now.
Update: After posting this, the Google API plugin for MT added an interesting link to a blog I already read. Over at diveintomark, there's a good set of links and some commentary about the REST vs. SOAP debate.
Update #2: Check out the RESTwiki. Lots of good information over there.
Posted by jzawodn at July 03, 2002 12:03 AM