W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-ws-arch@w3.org > January 2004

RE: Section 1.6 and REST - Can we make this more clear and useful ?

From: Newcomer, Eric <Eric.Newcomer@iona.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 06:42:23 -0500
Message-ID: <009AD9C866C5DE458E7EF528604A9F9C1F2C06@amereast-ems2.boston.amer.iona.com>
To: "Michael Champion" <mc@xegesis.org>, <www-ws-arch@w3.org>


I don't think non-rest is object oriented, and I don't think SOAP is object oriented.  As a CORBA company, we try to make a very clear distinction between something we consider object-oriented such as C++ CORBA for example, and something that isn't.  SOAP explicitly excludes most, if not all, of the characteristics of object based systems.

Amazon.com says (Jeff Barr I think, check Doug Kaye's IT Conversations at www.rds.com) that the majority of their "web services" users choose the "REST" style, although what they mean by that is plain XML documents.  A good number use what they call SOAP style, meaning XML documents in SOAP format.  They say the difference tends to fall along the lines of programmers vs non-programmers - Web folks like the plain XML because they can work with it and "debug" it in a browser, while the Java folks (for example) like the SOAP because it's more like something they're used to dealing with.

We have a problem in our document when we use the term "REST" to apply to Web services since it's not in our definition of a Web service.  I think it was a good try, all right, but we probably should focus on wordsmithing what's there and avoid reflecting the type of debate that's going on in the email list since it will never end...


-----Original Message-----
From: www-ws-arch-request@w3.org [mailto:www-ws-arch-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Michael Champion
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2004 7:00 AM
To: 'www-ws-arch@w3.org '
Subject: Re: Section 1.6 and REST - Can we make this more clear and
useful ?

On Jan 23, 2004, at 6:35 AM, He, Hao wrote:

> I strongly oppose the text because it does more harm to the document 
> than
> good.

I don't have any particular desire to put this in the document.  I'm 
stating my personal views using Roger's expression of his view as a 
starting point.  The very LAST thing I want to do is reopen the REST 
debate if it is divisive; the point I took from the discussion 
yesterday was to find a *useful* way to summarize what we learned from 
the debate.

> SOAP is a specific technology.  One can use it RESTfully or 
> non-RESTfully.
> If one uses it RESTfully, one gets the nice architectural properties 
> such as
> reliability, scalability, extensibility, etc ... .  If one uses it
> non-RESTfully, one has to prepare for the aftermath of tight coupling 
> (the
> old wonderful world of distributed objects).

I pretty much agree (although I'm not particularly happy by saying that 
the alternative to REST is "distributed objects." But we've never 
managed to come up with a good term for "non-REST".

> In short, saying that REST is only useful for simple applications, is
> totally misleading.

Well, I think this is the crux of the matter.  I don't see any example 
of Web services as we define them, or "SOA" as the analysts and 
marketers (and several of our companies!) are using the term, that use 
REST in a complex way. Maybe we will; I wouldn't be surprised, but I 
want to see the proof before putting my own credibility on the line.

Anyway, this is where I come down (personally, not necessarily what I 
want the WSA document to say): REST is demonstrably useful and 
efficient for straightforward, information-oriented, Web-based 
automated services.  Amazon is a real world example; their RESTful 
interface for programatically looking up information on books is quite 
a bit more popular than their SOAP/WSDL distributed object API.  Beyond 
that, I just don't know of compelling examples, and the lack of a 
support for doing much with SOAP for requesting data in a RESTful way 
seems like a show-stopper for using REST in a multi-network, 
high-security, transaction-oriented manner.       (I'm referring to the 
fact that there's no obvious way to encode a complex SOAP message in a 
URI). Bottom line: REST is a tool that Web services / SOA developers 
should know how to use and when it can be used most effectively, but 
not treat it as a philosophy to be applied whenever a distributed 
system needs to be built.  (That message seems to go over well with the 
audiences I speak to on this subject)

As for the WSA document, I'm reasonably happy with what we say in the 
current draft. Roger thinks we can put in more clear and useful 
language summarizing what  we think about REST.  I'm sure that each of 
us as individuals can do so, but I doubt if we can get much clearer 
than the current document text and maintain a consensus.  But I said 
I'd try :-)
Received on Saturday, 24 January 2004 06:42:55 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 21:41:10 UTC