WS-* vs REST (ack)

There’s a lot of interesting bloodletting debate going on about the different technical approaches to services development – RESTful versus ws-* (ws-splat). The great thing about this debate is that it helps expose fundamental requirements, preconceptions and trade-offs.

I’m currently on the sidelines…my own position is that while acknowledging that ws-* is overly complex and has led us down a lot of blind alleys in the standardization wars process, the fundamental aspects are useful and productive if used properly. REST approaches are conceptually elegant and simple in their use of and adherence to the “resource oriented” view of the world-wide-web, but I haven’t used them “in anger” yet and need to reserve judgement.

There is currently a very interesting discussion on the value of WSDL happening at TSS. One of the best contributions to the discussion from William Childers says:

WSDL is supposed to give us away of tying together the service, its address, its operations, the required message formats and the supported delivery channels. That’s very useful and is something that can be processed and used at either design time or run-time (e.g. WSIF).

If WSDL (and Schema) did not exist we’d have to invent them. You can argue about how good they are as solutions (not so great) but I don’t see how you can argue that solutions aren’t needed which I believe is one of Joseph O’s points.

On the other side…Stefan Tilkov at InfoQ gives a good defence of REST against the doubters.

Well reasoned discussion about these approaches will help to clarify each and also help to educate the wider user community. Currently the REST approach certainly dominates public web services (such as Google, Amazon, Facebook etc) and that ws-* dominates enterprise web services. I feel there is significant common ground between the two and we will see a middle way that bridges some of the differences and leads to both better ws-* implementations and better REST implementations.

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