[OSGeo-Standards] [OSGeo-Discuss] "Geoservices REST API" story is being discussed on slashdot

Rushforth, Peter Peter.Rushforth at NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca
Wed Jun 5 09:44:03 PDT 2013

Andrew, Arnulf,

> I have been in discussions on how to jumpstart any kind of real REST specification for years and finally gave up. :) I hope that path still happens in some way and includes full bidirectional support for any service.

Real REST is not that hard, after all.  But it does require a willingness to discuss what happens on
the client, because REST is about both ends of the conversation.  OGC has traditionally focused on
the server specifications, and perhaps this is a barrier to conceiving of a truly RESTful spec on their part.

RESTful services can only be specified by virtue of format / media type specifications:  how a client
interprets a media type in order to follow / construct-based-on-the-content-found-in-the-response-and-follow
URLs found in the hypermedia controls of the format.

In the end, how the service is implemented does not impact the interaction, because URLs are supposed to be opaque.

Perhaps the current "definition" of REST has arisen because it is
easier to hack the meaning of url structure of an existing service than it is to reverse engineer 
a semantic hypermedia format from scraped html.

Google's Maps API arose by people imputing the meaning of URI structure of the Google Maps pages.

Perhaps the creation of the term "REST API" arose from a conflation of those two points.  But the terms
REST and API are almost opposite in meaning hence "REST API" is essentially an oxymoron.

The (hypermedia) format specification *is* the contract between client and server.  When client and server operate on
that basis, the result is RESTful.

If the geospatial community could think of a way to allow html clients to access map services in a RESTful
manner, (think of a <html><body><map>...</html> element), we would be seeing the dawn of the real geo-Web,
not just platforms-as-proprietary-silos-geo-web.

Peter Rushforth
Technology Advisor / Conseiller technique
GeoAccess Division
650-615 Booth St. / rue Booth
Ottawa ON K1A 0E9
E-mail / Courriel: Peter.Rushforth at NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca 
Phone / Télephone: (613) 943-0784 
Fax / telecopier:  (613) 947-2410


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