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November 12, 2006


Mark Baker

With all due respect, Ian, that example you gave shows me that you don't yet fully understand REST. IMO, REST shares a *lot* more in common with the goals of the Grid than it does with the goals of SOA/WS, so I think you'd be well served by digging through Roy Fielding's dissertation. Though a lot of new-to-REST people have claimed the dissertation is unapproachable, as an academic and architect I don't expect you'll have any problems. Cheers.

Joe Gregorio

"a creed that admits to only four operations, POST, GET, PUT, and DELETE, and requires that arguments to a remote operation be encoded in a URL."

If that is your understanding of REST then I'm sure it looks pretty silly.


Computing is a large and varied world for sure. But surely the point of using HTTP as designed, as directly as possible, is to get the interop advantages of using a uniform interface/protocol?

Only last night I saw a protocol design which was built around using POST for all interactions. Amongst the open issues was reducing the overhead of passing fairly big messages around. If they'd have used GET where appropriate (probably half their operations) they'd have been able to take advantage of standard caches.

Ian Foster

I was curious as to what would happen if I wrote something that was meant to be humorous and controversial. Would anyone notice? And if I did, would people appreciate my remarks, or would I strike the wrong tone, and come across as merely offensive?

The responses I received make me cautiously optimistic about blogs. First, the numbers of readers doubled overnight. Not necessarily good, but for someone who likes to be read, not bad either.

Second, I got some responses, and apart from one ad hominen attack (which I didn't publish as the email address given bounced), those responses engaged in a conversation.

In response to one of the responses: I have read Roy Fielding's dissertation. I *really* liked it, but was not convinced. However, that was a while ago, and I will read it again. Perhaps, as Mark suggests, I will return a REST convert. I'm feeling nervous already (-:

John Dowdell

Another hallmark of fundamentalism is Mystery.

Ian contributed a single-sentence functional description of "REST". The response he received was not "here's how that definition can be improved and made even more accessible" but "no no no you understand nothing you need to read another few hundred pages of text".

If someone can't seem to get to the point, it's often because they don't really have one.

(I appreciated that some-or-all distinction too, Ian -- that "simple rules applied to *all* situations" danger -- thanks for the essay, it was useful for me.)


Mark Baker

"I have read Roy Fielding's dissertation. I *really* liked it, but was not convinced"

I don't follow, Ian. Convinced of what?

John - if somebody misuses a word, is it not useful and productive to point them at a dictionary?

Dave Berry

Hi Ian,

I think there's another "fundamental" issue, to use the word with another meaning. It's easier to build a community with simple tools than with complex ones. So we can see a lot of data mashups building on services from Amazon, Google and so forth, which use URIs and HTTP/get because it's really easy to do so. Conversely, current WS/SOA tooling is either cumbersome, expensive, or both, and the technology is implicitly more complex that URIs and HTTP/get.

Of course, that will only get people so far. At WWW2006 in Edinburgh, people from Amazon, Google et al were discussing the need to add security to these systems in order to support more commercial uses of the technology. Mostly they were suggesting new hacks to retrofit secure access on top of the existing system, and we all know that to be successful, security, like usability, has to be designed in from the start.

So there is a question of whether the simple approach has built up a sufficient community to carry throught the addition of more complex features such as security, or whether this community will balk at the extra effort required. Another question is whether the security-free approach is sufficient - as with the internet, which lacks a decent security layer. And will we have two separate communities for distributed web systems, one easy to use but limited and the other robust but too complex for the average developer?

Mark Mc Keown

Ian, I guess I am one of you Web Fundamentalists :-)

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