As you can probably see from some of my posts, we are moving the Alfresco system in the direction of a more REST-style of architecture. As I posted in my ZDNet blog today REST-style architecture in the real world, a lot of people don’t know what REST is, but they may be implementing it anyway. In doing research for a presentation for a large US investment bank, I was able to discover others building applications using REST-style, but they weren’t necessarily aware that they were building it using REST.
The simple explanation for REST that I have come up with, thanks to Anthony Starks, is to describe it as Web Oriented Architecture rather than Service Oriented Architecture. By making everything a URL (although technically a URI), you can access everything via that URL and use standard web commands like Get and Post to access and update those things, something we call resources. This URL-based update of information contrasts with a very Remote Procedure Call-like interface of SOAP. Basically, every time you access information in a browser or a pop-up in a mashup receives or updates information, you are using REST. I tried describing it this way and generally people get it.
In my blog REST Battles SOAP for the Future of Information Services, I have positioned what is happening as a major struggle, but at its very beginning. What we do know is that there are huge investments in SOA that have yet to yield expected benefits. In the meantime, the Web 2.0 world of mashups and simple access is moving forward at a much faster pace in providing simple integration and massive scalability. Coming from a content perspective, REST is much better suited toward managing and accessing content than SOAP is. However, SOAP with the WS-* are much further along in managing security and providing transactional integrity.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Microsoft approaches REST in relation to the huge investment that they have made into SOAP and web services. From ECM perspective, SharePoint is very dependent on web services for basic content operations. However, they are just starting to make their first moves into REST, driven by Microsoft Live that has to compete against other Web 2.0 sites. In Microsoft needs REST http://blogs.zdnet.com/Newton/?p=14, I discussed what the issues are and potential pitfalls for everyone, including Microsoft, if they buck current approaches like Atom Publishing and go it alone with their own standard.
Anyway, much of this is to remind you of my ZDNet blog Newton’s Theory and hope you take a visit.