How to cite this paper
REST Oriented Architectures (ROA): Taking a resourceful approach to web data
Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008
August 12 - 15, 2008
Resource Oriented Architectures use the fundamental characteristics of the web itself in
order to provide and update content on the web. While much of the philosophy concerning REST
has been around since the early 1990s, the tools for turning these philosophies into working
systems are only now becoming feasible. The fundamental tenets of ROA — that the
web itself is primarily a giant database, that resources are abstractions that can be
manifest in different representations, that a query-oriented resource architecture is more
robust than a verb-oriented services architecture, and that a common publishing and
syndication protocol is necessary to make such an architectural system work —
are being adopted increasingly by people who realize that services oriented architecture are
not effective at getting data from users or providing it to them in an easy to use way, but
that ROA can do precisely that.
Such a shift in perception is necessary but will nonetheless take a while to happen.
It's necessary because the amount of information on the web is piling up faster than it can
be indexed, and because under the current architectures the cost of developing "editors" for
that data is prohibitive compared to the value of that information. It's necessary because
the data within organizations is getting more complex than can be readily handled with a
name/value approach to application development, and is increasingly contained within
non-traditional data sources — Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft Word documents,
for instance, or external data streams.
Adoption will take time, however, because such an approach reduces the competitive
barrier impedence that corporations can utilize to sell services, because it will take time
to educate people in the underlying technologies and because there is a long-standing belief
that ROA and SOA systems are incompatible. The rapidity at which companies lined up behind
AtomPub, on the other hand, points to the fact that many IT organizations recognize the
value to themselves that an AtomPub-type architecture opens up, while the educational curve
is frankly true of most technologies — it will happen, slower than its
proponents may hope but faster than its critics anticipate.