You may have already seen this on InfoQ or on Stefan’s blog, but the video of my 2008 QCon London presentation “REST, Reuse, and Serendipity” is now available.
Here it is, just a little over a year after I gave that presentation, and REST continues to deliver extremely well for my work. For example, I just finished a meeting a couple hours ago where some client code needs to interact with a particular part of my system via HTTP but wants XML instead of the JSON currently provided. Simple — it’s just a different representation of the same resources, and of course it wasn’t hard to guess months ago that such a need would eventually come down the pike, so fitting it into the system will be trivial. Can you imagine the hoops one would have to jump through with typical RPC-oriented systems for this case, where the marshaling format is typically tied to the protocol and you can’t change either one? You’d have to write a new service interface with new verbs and new messages and get the client side to use it, or write client-side wrappers around whatever you already have and ask the client programmers to somehow incorporate those wrappers into their code. Either way, there’s simply no chance of reusing existing agreements; instead, both sides require non-trivial specialization.
One problem I noticed, though, was that the client developers asked for a “REST-like interface” and also for a document listing all resource URIs, and for each one, the HTTP verbs that apply to it, the representations available from it, and what status codes to expect from invoking operations on it. Those two requests are sort of mutually exclusive, depending on what “REST-like” means; for a proper RESTful system, you don’t need a document like that, at least not the type of document they’re asking for.