REST Questions

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Thu, 30 Aug 2001 16:16:17 -0400 (EDT)


> > See, this is where I get off the REST bus. I say "Can you do REST over
> > SMTP?", knowing that there is a big move in the Web Services world to
> > use both SMTP and Jabber as transport mechanisms...
> 
> The terminology is interesting...if the Web's central technologies are
> URIs and HTTP then is a service provided without using either (e.g. XML
> over Jabber) a "Web Service" or just a "Jabber Service". 

I am saying it is a Web Service, and in particular, I think that
inasmuch as Web Services take off, they will fruther stretch the
meaning of the word Web.

This has already happened to a large extent, as Web is no longer 'html
over http' but now means 'the publicly accessible internet', as we see
when people refer to streaming video as being 'on the Web', whether it
comes in over http or not.

> Under what circumstances is SMTP a better choice? I do believe there are
> a few such situations -- in particular when the only "interface" you
> have to a Web service is Pine and a once-a-day village-wide network
> connection. 

...or when you have only a RIM and the browser sucks, or you only have
a phone with SMS and no browser at all. The old smtp->ftp/nntp/etc
gateways are a possible solution in low-bandwidth text-only environments,
e.g. the pre-web net and the current wireless net.

There is also the batch processing choice, when data is not going to
be sent back in real time, as with large database searches for dna or
protein motifs, where the resutls are mailed back.

This is not to say that I think that http won't be the major transport
protocol, just that if you have something that feels like a WS to the
suer but travels over http or jabber, it will still be a 'web service'
despite the damage that does to the name.

> But I do not think that authoring SOAP in Eudora for use
> over SMTP is really realistic. The one piece of software that every UI
> device has installed today is the browser, not the mail client. You use
> the browser to emulate the mail client, not the other way around.

This isn't true of mobile devices, and even on the mobile devices that
do have browsers, the mail works and the browser doesn't.

> Clay, could you make the case for deploying new web services over SMTP
> and Jabber?

There's a broad discussion of asynch web services, including jabber,
at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-ws/2001Jun/0029.html

-clay