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Re: Web RPCs Considered Harmful

From: Ken MacLeod <ken@bitsko.slc.ut.us>
Date: 13 May 2000 12:26:57 -0500
To: xml-dist-app@w3.org
Message-ID: <x5d7mq4azi.fsf@bitsko.slc.ut.us>
Edd Dumbill <edd@usefulinc.com> writes:

> Although you point out that data transfer protocols have the
> opportunity of avoiding lock-in, I'm not sure it's an API vs data
> transfer thing.  I can't see that it's any more difficult to
> obfuscate a data format than an API.

Yes, this is true for intentional lock-in and is already a well-known
issue with XML, for example.

For whatever social or political reasons, data formats seem to be
developed and presented in a very open manner whereas APIs seem to be
developed in isolation and then published, as Wes points out in his
reply.  The problem here is _unintentional_ lock-in and fragmentation.
If APIs were developed as openly as data formats, this would be a much
smaller issue.

As someone recently pointed out to me, designs tend to lead towards
uses.  If you design something that encourages openness (like XML)
you'll get it whereas if you design something that doesn't encourage
openness (like RPCs for APIs) you won't get it.

> One thing that I've not worked out yet--and which would be
> instructive to do in order to further understand the issues--is the
> flow of money in the brave new world of web APIs. What
> products/services will be offered, to whom, and at what cost? That
> will dictate as much as anything the level of openness. If nobody
> can make money by being open then...

Right now, the money is in the past investment and current momentum of
RPCs, and will likely continue flowing that way for a while.
Hopefully presentation of practical alternatives will start flowing
money in that direction and will eventually resolve the issue.

  -- Ken
Received on Saturday, 13 May 2000 13:21:06 GMT

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