Is it as fun as it used to be?

You Actually Have to Know Something Sometimes


Roy Fielding, Mr. REST himself, writes a nice article about REST APIs and how they must be hypertext driven. I thought this was a pretty good article, and that I’d use it in the future when trying to explain REST APIs.

Apparently, not everyone agrees. It sounds as though Roy had a little bit of grief which is outlined nicely in this followup article.

Understandably, Roy isn’t pleased.

As you may have noted, my last post seems to have hit a nerve in various communities, particularly with those who are convinced that REST means HTTP (because, well, that’s what they think it means) and that any attempt by me to describe REST with precision is just another elitist philosophical effort that won’t apply to those practical web developers who are just trying to get their javascript to work on more than one browser.

Apparently, I use words with too many syllables when comparing design trade-offs for network-based applications. I use too many general concepts, like hypertext, to describe REST instead of sticking to a concrete example, like HTML. I am supposed to tell them what they need to do, not how to think of the problem space. A few people even complained that my dissertation is too hard to read. Imagine that!

Oh dear.

In the very first comment Dorian Taylor says:

With all due respect, I think you’re continually going to encounter that contingent that is expecting the bullet list of instructions, or even lazier, the screencast of ultra-practical steps to make the baubles twirl on their displays. My only consolation is the notion that this is probably just a symptom of the industrial age’s death rattle, and it’s anomalous that this behaviour is even considered acceptable.

Well, I don’t know how “ultra-practical” this video is, but it *is* from Joe Gregorio. Nice to see what Joe looks like. Oh, and it’s quite informative too, of course.

UPDATE: REST is UnAmerican, David Ing I think.

It’s long been our belief that REST and Roy Fielding has been palling around with Hypermedia. He barely denies it. But, my friends, let me tell you that no washed up PhD dissertation will dictate our request/response. He says it, in his own words – he talks about ‘constraints’, he toys with the idea of a transfer of ‘state’. My friends, in these times of economic crisis we need less State involvement, not more. REST doesn’t understand. Let’s give state transition back to the hard working people of the USA. Enough with this hypermedia socialism.


Written by hutch

October 28, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Software, webapps

3 Responses

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  1. Hi Bob,

    REST is UnAmerican was satire. It was intended as an amusing commentary on how political the discussion had become, hence written in the style of a political speech from a well known 72 year old US candidate for president.


    David Ing

    October 30, 2008 at 11:22 am

  2. Hi David,

    And I thought it was brilliant satire too!



    October 31, 2008 at 8:13 am

  3. @David nicely done, though I’d be worried if anyone didn’t pick it up as satire…

    @hutch as a Rails/REST zealot I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never read anything from Mr G Biv, thanks for the poke into action!

    Ed Spencer

    November 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

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