REST Questions

Mark Baker distobj@acm.org
Sat, 25 Aug 2001 17:53:06 -0400 (EDT)


> > Moving headers into SOAP, then binding SOAP to HTTP and SMTP,
> > may help here, if only because it's looking like it'll be the
> > same group of people doing both, so no NIH worries.  This *may*
> > also help lower the need for SMTP over time too.
> 
> I'm not an HTTP purist but I thought you were. ;-)

SOAP's tricky.  It fits well with REST (in one configuration), but
not as well with HTTP (go figure).  But it has some really handy
features that may mean it will succeed.

> Isn't moving headers into the HTTP body working against the HTTP model?

Yes.  This creates problems.  The main one is that SOAP headers
are not reusable over GET.  So if a nifty SOAP header is defined for
routing, for example, it can't be used to route a GET request.

I'm not sure that this is insurmountable.  Certainly for untargetted,
no-mustUnderstand headers, I'm sure a mapping could be created to
transform SOAP headers into HTTP headers.  For the other headers,
they could perhaps be converted to headers for use with HTTP with
HTTP-EF (RFC 2774).

> But I'll repeat that in the real world the app is likely to be
> represented through an HTML page and the only question is whether it
> sends the data to a mailto: (SMTP queue) or http://localhost/ (a local
> micro-HTTP). And if you do the latter you have the potential to build a
> much better user interface. Conforming to REST is an incidental benefit.

For mail access, sure.  For mail transfer, there wouldn't be a
user interface.  I think we agree.

> Let me ask the RESTers their opinion about a sociological question. Why
> haven't local micro-HTTPs really taken off? I think I have only one or
> two apps on my desktop computer that use micro-HTTP.

Very good question.  I can't think of any one reason.  Dialup is
still the predominent means of net access, so a web server makes
little sense for those folk.  For those with DSL/cable/etc.,
security concerns are probably significant.  Plus I don't know of
many apps that make their content accessible via HTML.

>And nobody seems to
> be working on a micro-HTTP based IM.

Have you tried the KnowNow stuff?  http://developer.knownow.com
Check out KnowBuddy.  Not only is it HTTP based IM, it's
*zero-install* HTTP IM.

MB