Update: a proposal for a better name.
If this distinction doesn’t seem very important, don’t worry — it’s not. Tim Bray captured the most important point, that Don Box (who is heavily involved in REST’s nemesis, Web Services) is talking positively about REST at all. For the RESTafarians and some of their friends, however, Box’s heresy was even worse than his former non-belief, because heresy can easily lead the faithful astray: witness strong reactions from Dimitri Glazkov, Jonnay (both via Dare Obasanjo), and Dare Obasanjo himself. There is even a holy scripture, frequently cited to clinch arguments.
I do not yet have a strong opinion on which approach is better, but I do see a contradiction between the two arguments I hear most often from REST supporters:
- REST is superior to Web Services/SOAP/SOA because it’s been proven to work on the Web.
- Almost nobody on the Web uses REST correctly.
Pick one, and only one of these arguments, please. As far as I can see, apart from a few rare exceptions (like WebDAV), Don’s lo-REST — HTTP GET and POST only — is what’s been proven on the web. The pure Book of Fielding, hi-REST GET/POST/PUT/DELETE version is every bit as speculative and unproven as Web Services/SOAP/SOA themselves (that’s not to say that it’s wrong; simply that it’s unproven). Some REST supportors, like Ryan Tomayko, acknowledge this contradiction.
(Update) A better name?
Tim Bray proposes throwing out the REST name altogether and talking instead about Web Style. I like that idea, though the REST name may be too sticky to get rid of by now. Dumping the REST dogma along with the name would clear up a lot of confusion: HTTP GET and POST have actually been proven to work and scale across almost unimaginable volumes; on the other hand, like the WS-* stack, using HTTP PUT and DELETE remains a clever design idea that still needs to be proven practical and scalable.