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Re: Binding

From: Miles Sabin <miles@milessabin.com>
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 21:54:13 +0000
To: www-ws-arch@w3.org
Message-Id: <200301062154.13722.miles@milessabin.com>

Mark Baker wrote,
> On Mon, Jan 06, 2003 at 04:54:21PM +0000, Miles Sabin wrote:
> > And the RESTless version could work just as well if we substituted
> > "9ajp23q9rj89aweruwer" for "getLastSharePriceOfIBM". What allows
> > this, in *both* cases is the _prior_ coordination between the
> > client which has,
> Wrong.
> I think it's funny (in an unfortunate way) that this benefit is so
> easily taken for granted.  It's called a *coordination* language for
> a reason, ya know. 8-/
>   http://www.markbaker.ca/9ajp23q9rj89aweruwer
> Quick, before you type that into a browser window, tell me everything
> you and your browser know about it and what I'm trying to communicate
> to you by putting it in this email message.

Well now ... you're giving David all the ammunition he needs for his 
part of the argument.

I know a fair bit about that URI a priori. I'm reasonably confident that 
there's something on the end of it. Also that any representation I get 
back will probably have a text/html MIME type. It's textual content 
will be in English, and relate to this thread in some way or another. 
Either that or it's a rude message ;-)

I have that confidence because it's not _just_ a random string of 
characters. It's a URI posted in a mail to this list by a person, with 
a purpose, for human consumption. It has a context, a context which is 
shared by its publisher (you) and its consumers (the rest of us).

I also have a reason for _wanting_ to see what's on the end of it: I'm 
just intrigued to see what's there. That's why I'll follow the link 
when I've sent this mail.

But what if the consumer isn't a person? In general a machine won't know 
anything about that URI, it can't even guess. It won't autonomously 
follow it any more than it would follow any other link composed of a 
random string of characters. Unless, that is, it's a spider, in which 
case it'll blindly follow any link it's given ... but this is a list 
for Web _Services_ Architecture, not Web _Spider_ Architecture, and 
presumably we're all interested in getting machines to something a 
little more sophisticated than wandering blindly.

If we want to do that, then we have to provide the machines with 
something analogous to the shared context that makes link following 
make sense in the human case. Machines being the dumb lumps of tin they 
are, that has to be a priori shared knowledge and semantics encoded 
some how or other.

The SOAP/WSDL way of doing that is to encode knowledge in the 
communicating endpoints. The encoding is mostly ... code: and the 
SOAP/WSDL community has given developers a programming model, idioms 
and toolkits to help do the job of writing it.

Another way of doing it might be to encode a significant portion of that 
knowledge in the structure of the network that the machines are 
traversing when they follow links. In a way, that's putting spiders to 
work by designing the network they wander over in such a way that their 
wandering produces a useful result. That this can be done is an insight 
from the mobile calculii people, and, IMO, it's the echoes of this in 
REST which makes REST interesting.

But note ... even if the machines are dumber in this case, the network 
has to be smarter. Qualitatively speaking, the same work that goes into 
the design and implementation of RPC-style clients and servers would 
have to go into the design and implementation of a REST-style network. 
And it's harder work, because the programming model and idioms are 

All that work has to be done up front just as in the SOAP/WSDL case, it 
doesn't come for free, and it isn't all there in RFCs 2396 and 2616 
just waiting to be found.


Received on Monday, 6 January 2003 16:54:45 UTC

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