Friday, November 16, 2007

Questions for Steve

First I've read a Dare Obasanjo story about getting disappointed in (Big) Web Services and having never to go back to them again. Dare refers to the James Snell's notes.

It's interesting how everyone picks up statements from these notes, which means they're good. Sanjiva Weerawarana picked up a note about the complexity of REST , while Dare picked up a note where James said he'd never had to go back to Web Services again since starting working in a WebAhead project. Don Box said he liked the notes too but I'd be interested to know what exactly he liked. It's offtopic but my favorite notes are :

* “Atompub + Required Vendor Specific Extensions == New Protocol”
* "Anyone who picks a technology just because it’s popular in 2007 is ..."

Anyway, Dare concludes :

"At this point I realize I’m flogging a dead horse. The folks I know from across the industry who have to build large scale Web services on the Web today at Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Windows Live, Amazon, etc are using RESTful Web services. The only times I encounter someone with good things to say about WS-* is if it is their job to pimp these technologies or they have already “invested” in WS-* and want to defend that investment."

I've read the Dare's post and I thought, with sadness :-), why people like Dare and James have become so disappointed. Did they think that Web Services will rule the WEB ? Dare says he was not happy translating a SOAP RSS service into a RSS feed, I can feel his pain. Have they ever looked at Web Services as an integration technology ? I thought for a sec the last question would be a killer question...

Only if it was so simple :-). As it happens people who has seen the real stuff have become totally disappointed too. One of them is Steve Vinoski. Steve says in his post Dare is Right You build Real Working System with REST

"Finally, I realized that WS-* was simply not worth it to any customer or to me. My decision to leave WS-* behind and use only REST was based entirely on real-world commercial integration issues"

and concludes :

"Nowadays, all the distributed systems development I do is REST-oriented. I know from significant first-hand experience what both sides of the coin look like, and there’s no question that REST-oriented systems are easier and less expensive to develop, and far less costly to extend and manage. Like Dare said, anyone who thinks otherwise is either so emotionally or monetarily attached to WS-* that they can’t be objective, or they don’t actually write any code or build or maintain any actual systems. It’s no contest, really."

It feels like the last nail has been banged into a WS-* coffin. It feels like a strong message indeed. No compromise. Either REST or nothing.

I'd like to ask Steve few questions. It's tough asking Steve questions for someone like myself who was 'lured' to IONA by the desire to work with people like Steve . It was not only a desire to be together with IONA people like Steve though which eventually brought me to IONA, but a mission (impossible) to solve all the world problems with the help of web services :-) ! So I'd like to ask Steve few questions about software, web services and REST, in no particular order :

1. Do you think a client code generation is evil ? If yes, do you expect people to do manual programming on a large scale ?
2. If code generation is acceptable, would you welcome WADL? If yes, what to do with generated client types with respect to the change management ?
3. Do you think the idea of interfaces is broken ? Do you see any point in creating minimalistic yet not generic interfaces with encouraging users to focus on data ?
4. Would you expect in the future even software modules interacting with each other through a common generic interfaces ?
5. "WS-* was simply not worth it to any customer or to me" - was it not ?
6. Do you think WS-Policy is a useless technology ?
7. Do you think AtomPub is the best way to do REST ? Is AtomPub better than SOAP ?
8. What is a better way to protect investments made into WS-* ? Throw them away and start from scratch or start embracing the WEB while improving on what can be done with WS-* ?
9. Do you think an "integration" problem IONA has been so good at is an "overblown" problem ?
10. Can you please, if possible, describe a bit what kind of (software) clients will use your RESTful systems, (Web)UI tools or client software modules pushing the data up the response chain ?
11. What is the difference between service factories found in Corba and RESTful services creating new child resources as part of POST (as far as managing child resources is concerned) ?
12. Do you always prefer dealing with fine-grained resources ?

Perhaps more questions to come later.



Keith Gaughan said...

"It feels like a strong message indeed. No compromise. Either REST or nothing."

Nobody's saying that. All anybody's saying is that WS-* has little value that can't be obtained through other mechanisms such as RESTful systems. And nobody except the REST bashers is saying that REST is the be-all-and-end-all of everything, only that REST works better than WS-* for a large set of problems, not that it's ideal for everything.

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