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Re: REST, uniformity and semantics

From: Walden Mathews <waldenm@optonline.net>
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 16:48:58 -0400
To: Francis McCabe <fgm@fla.fujitsu.com>, www-ws-arch@w3.org
Message-id: <009901c318c7$ef953f00$1702a8c0@WorkGroup>


I'm a little baffled.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Francis McCabe" <fgm@fla.fujitsu.com>
To: <www-ws-arch@w3.org>
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2003 3:57 PM
Subject: REST, uniformity and semantics

> This is a follow-up to a comment that I made in the last telcom. It 
> represents my personal understanding of the relationship between 
> REST/SOA etc.
> It is possible to stratify the space of Web services along the 
> following lines (going bottom-up):
> Level 0: Transport SOA.
> At this level we have notions of messages, transports, encodings (XML 
> etc), package formats etc. etc. The key aspect of a SOA is that 
> everything is defined in terms of the messages exchanged and not in 
> terms of any particular processing of those messages.

That's fine; service orientation is about service interfaces and
the hiding of implementation complexities.

> What is particularly missing from this level is ANY commitment as to 
> the processing/understanding implied by sending or receiving a message; 
> all that you have is the text/DOM tree of the message itself. (You can 
> add types with no loss of generality.)

If there's no meaning to be found at this level, can you really
call it "service"?  I think meaning and service are inseparable.

> Level 1: Open/Custom SOA
> The extra interpretation/commitment incorporated by the notion of an 
> Open or custom SOA is that it is possible for parties to describe -- 
> using standard specs -- the processing/understanding entailed by 
> sending or receiving a message. This may be in the form of an API-like 
> model but does not have to be. Currently SOAP/WSDL go a long way to 
> permitting this kind of SOA.

This level seems fictitious to me.  You're using it to introduct SOAP
and WSDL.  How would you describe it sans those acronyms?  How
can you have a distinct level based on descriptions which may lend
meaning to message exchanges?  What constraints are introduced to
set this level apart?

> Level 2a: REST SOA
> The extra interpretation added here is that we restrict our language to 
> one that is appropriate for manipulating resources. This comes in two 
> parts: a limited vocabulary (GET/PUT/POST/DELETE) and a particular 
> interpretation of the `payload' of a message (in particular, the 
> argument of a PUT and POST is the representation of a resource)

Struggling with this.  Resource orientation, IMO, is a way of looking
at the world.  Given that orientation, EVERY language is one that is
"appropriate for manipulating resources".  Maybe that's a nit.  You're
perhaps saying that you can build up a layer of service orientation in
which the familiar REST constraints are applied.  I'll but that.

But I don't see why this "layer" would be dependent on SOAP or
WSDL or their fictional equivalents.  Doesn't this break the layering

> A Level 2a SOA has some attractions in that it captures the world of 
> the Web pretty well; but requires some bending to deal with many (if 
> not most) real-world interactions between legal entities: namely 
> ACTION. This leads to:

Example of the "bending" that is "required"?

> Level 2b: ACTION SOA
> (This is mythical, but demonstrates that there are many alternatives to 
> The extra interpretation added in ACTION SOA is that we restrict our 
> language to one that is appropriate for expressing actions between 
> legal entities; here I suggest INFORM, REQUEST, PROMISE, DECLARE as a 
> reasonable initial starting point. In addition, the `payload' of a 
> message takes the form of a fact or an action.

Due to its mythical nature, I'm having a hard time guessing the
scope of its applicability...

> The real point behind this message is that by taking this kind of 
> stratified view of the different levels of Web services it is clearer 
> (to me anyway) what the relationship between SOA, REST, Web services 
> etc. etc. is.
> I hope that this helps.

I hope you can spread the clarity.

Received on Monday, 12 May 2003 16:46:37 UTC

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