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    « Interesting Stats | Main | Detailed Review of Robosapien (Part 1) »

    June 22, 2004



    There is another option, and among the set of them, it is the only option with ...

    * proven commercial, military and academic use in the field for over a decade.
    * completely open standards governed by an international body
    * a mature and internationally accepted protocol with thousands of toolkits in every software language and paradigm.
    * secure access, again well tested
    * no need for extra hardware or software.
    * able to scale to billions of unique calls by billions of users, thousands of times every second.

    Can you guess it? Here's one clue: the approach was formalized in a landmark thesis by Roy Fielding whom we also know as one of the primary people, and as a co-author of a very famous internet specification, HTTP 1.1.

    Ok, one more clue, the best example of Roy's method is known throughout the world as that spec he co-wrote :)

    The method is called "Representational State Transfer" or just REST for short, and the basic gist of it postulates a small number of general operations applicable to any number of "resource documents" -- you might compare this to the SOAP/RPC model of an infinity of unguessable function calls and parameter specifications applied to an expanding set of documents.

    Does SOAP work? No one has yet presented an example that cannot be done with REST, and there are approximately zero real-world large scale SOAP or XMLRPC implementations.

    Does REST work? You are using it now -- we call it "the world wide web" -- it scales marvelously, and all I need know is that you have a document at some URL to know that I can likely GET, PUT, POST, or possibly even DELETE it.

    I first encountered Roy while, like a lot of my colleagues in the Y2K days, every problem I got I thought of distributed processing across the internet and thought I'd found the perfect excuse to learn this new SOAP/XMLRPC webservices stuff. As I coded, however, I was bothered by all the complexity and issues of reliability, security, scaleability ... you get the picture; as I tossed out code in hopes of simplifying the process, in every single case, I reverted back to Plain Ordinary Un-Sexy but Very Reliable and Trustworthy HTTP. I started to notice a pattern :) -- a colleague sent me Roy's then-unpublished thesis and suddenly there was a name to my pain, and an eloquent exposition of the perfect salve.

    For some heavy myth-busting about the webservices debates, no bit of research is complete without a trip to the RESTwiki at

    Sweet simplicity: Enjoy :)

    Michael Ianni-Palarchio

    Thanks for the great tip and adding to the discussion Gary. I'll be sure to bring this 3rd option to the mix in future discussions with this "think group" and their client.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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