Sunday, March 23, 2008

A couple of not so obvious facts around REST/HTTP

While composing an entry on QCon I came across a couple of factoids around REST/HTTP that I had thought obvious but when I mentioned them at the event a few people found them surprising. So rather than bury them in that post (when it eventually appears), I thought I'd bring them up here:

  • I've been developing applications on the Web since it was first released: being at University at the time, I had a lot of freedom to play. I even wrote a browser in InterViews! (Anyone else remember gopher?) Anyway, I remember being glad when the first URN proposal came out because it looked to address some of the issues we mentioned at the time, through the definition of a specific set of name servers: no longer would you have to use URLs directly, but you'd use URNs and the infrastructure would look them up via the name server(s) for you. Sound familiar? Well fast forward 10 years and that never happened. Or did it? Well if you consider what a naming service (or trading service) does for you, WTF is Google or Yahoo?

  • My friend and co-InfoQ colleague/editor Stefan has another nice article on REST. In it he addresses some of the common mis-conceptions around REST, and specifically the perceived lack of pub/sub. You what? As he and I mentioned separately, it seems pretty obvious that RSS and Atom are the right approach in RESTland. The feedback I got at QCon the other week put this approach high on my pet projects list for this vacation, so I've been working on that for our ESB as well as some other stealth projects of my own.

Now the folks I met at QCon were all very bright. So their surprise at these "revelations" came as a bit of a surprise to me. But hey, maybe it wasn't a good statistical sample.

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