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REST and the Web

From: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 12:55:15 -0400
To: Anne Thomas Manes <atm@systinet.com>
Cc: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>, "Www-Talk@W3. Org" <www-talk@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20020425125515.E9350@www.markbaker.ca>

On Thu, Apr 25, 2002 at 09:26:10AM -0400, Anne Thomas Manes wrote:
> I have studied REST, and I agree with Mark N that it is indeed powerful. And
> I have repeated encouraged W3C to explore new and wonderful designs based on
> the REST architecture. But I do not believe that REST is the answer to all
> things, or necessarily the best architecture for *every* networked
> application (although it definitely is for many!). As with Mark N, I like to
> keep a lot of tools in my tool box, and I prefer to use the best tool for
> the job at hand.
> I also do not believe that REST will be the last great architectural idea
> that someone will compose in my lifetime. I've experienced a lot of very
> exciting new ideas during the last 45 years, and I'm convince that I will
> experience a lot more during the next 45 years. Innovation and
> open-mindedness are what keep me going.

Both of those are strawman arguments.  I'm not saying another great
architecture won't come along, nor do I believe REST is the best answer
for every networked application.  All I'm saying is that the Web has a
single architecture, and therefore any system with a different
architecture is not the Web.

> The Web has been around longer than REST. You're trying to revise history by
> saying that the Web architecture = REST.

I don't believe that "=" captures it.  I believe that REST is the subset
of Web architecture that concerns software architecture.  There are many 
other non-software architectural issues that REST doesn't deal with, such
as internationalization, universal access, etc..

Anyhow, as for the revisionist claim, I think I'll defer to Roy;

"Over the past six years, the REST architectural style has been used to guide the design and development of the architecture for the modern Web, as presented in Chapter 6. This work was done in conjunction with my authoring of the Internet standards for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI), the two specifications that define the generic interface used by all component interactions on the Web."

Arguing why REST is the software architecture of the Web is something
I'm not personally interested in doing, since to me it seems so
fundamental; for any software system, the architectural constraints
under which that system was designed and operates *defines* the system.
Change the constraints, and you have a different system.  If some new
great architecture comes along in the future, then that's awesome; I'll
learn from it and use it.  But it won't be the Web, though I expect
that the Web will attempt to engulf it, like it has so many other

I think the phrase "Identity, State, and GET" sums it up for me;


Mark Baker, Chief Science Officer, Planetfred, Inc.
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA.      mbaker@planetfred.com
http://www.markbaker.ca   http://www.planetfred.com
Received on Thursday, 25 April 2002 12:48:24 UTC

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