08/17/08 :: [REST] Damien Katz on REST [permalink]

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Damien Katz ignited a rash of comments and somewhat outraged the REST inquisition.

My favorite comment is the one from Joshua Haberman:

THANK YOU for saying this. Glad to know I'm not the only one. I'm also in the camp of "yes SOAP sucks, but what problems does REST solve?"

The more a service looks like a file system, the more REST makes sense. The more any of its operations diverge from being dumb file system operations, the more REST breaks down, and the worse of a fit it is.

It exactly represents what I think. Roy's REST is a wonderful concept that every one should know about and apply where they can. People that try to apply REST where WS-* is a good fit are probably in it for a big disappointment.

The REST inquisition came out with their usual boloney:

  • caching (Colin Percival): oh, yes, we all know that enterprise data caches really well, so huge advantage there for REST.
  • evolution (John Heintz): "What SOAP (via WSDL) and most Interface based services do is prevent the independent evolution of the client and server", way to go John, I can see that you learn really fast and you have a clear view about what "evolution" means.
  • The Web works so REST works (Tim Bray): "REST architecture serves as the basis for the most biggest and most successful information system the world has ever seen, that effortlessly deals with heterogeneous hardware and software, and provides a high-quality user experience while scaling towards a billion users.", Tim clearly understands what an information system is and we all know that all web applications in the world have been religiously developed following the REST principles. Tim fully understands the difference between a page and an information entity, and he of course thinks that a link is a relationship. Way to go Tim.
  • No bookmarks, no casual emails containing a link, no debugging via the browser [with SOAP] (Stefan Tilkov): yes, Stefan, it is well known that information needs to be "casually" accessed first, security, versioning, assembly/composition in complex solutions are just secondary (and frankly annoying) problems that we shouldn't have to deal with
  • [Nobody] that had actually tried REST for real and with an open mind [has] decided that it was inferior to WS-* and so abandoned it (Steve Vinoski). Yes and actually there is huge evidence that tons of people are building incredible enterprise class information systems with REST. This is why Flash, Flex, Silverlight... have absolutely no future whatsoever, people are clearly abandoning these technologies and using REST instead. Steve, why don't you point us to these "real-world" systems that people have built with REST? Why don't you show the evidence?

I think at this point it is clear that the REST inquisition will never change its boloney by a single iota, we will have to wait until people stupid enough to listen to them come back and tell them, well, we did built "information systems" for the Enterprise using REST and none of this came true, we could not use caching, we could not version our stuff, each time we changed something it broke the client, we could not easily compose some of these services in complex solutions. Worst of all our processes became completely inflexible.

Damien is not by not the last person that will express that REST is "no big deal". You can be sure about that.