Sunday, November 29, 2009


Okay it's a bait and switch tactic. I'm not going to attempt to answer the SOAP vs REST question. It just degenerates into a religious war and ultimately serves no point. IBM's recent announcement about more REST in its Websphere product line prompted some conversation about it.

It probably doesn't really matter which way you go but I do think there are a few points that need clearing up and some further explanation. First there is this comment I got off of Joe McKendrick's post about it (Believe the comment is from Lorain Lawson) -

"However, IBM’s growing support of REST is “too promising to ignore.” That’s because the REST architectural approach opens up the door to potentially stronger SOA deployments – “with easier integration and more reuse of services (read: more agile) than you’ll get from an SOA built on an ESBs or the SOAP-based WS-*.”"

That really hasn't been my experience. I think when a comment like that is made more explanation as to why that might be true should be given. SOAP style Web Services are actually pretty easy to work with in most cases. REST has easier integration? More reuse? Why would that be? How many folks when using SOAP style Web Services have to worry about or get into the details of SOAP? How about REST style? Little more involved isn't it?

Easier integration? REST lends itself to more tightly coupled integration especially in the wrong hands. That's not the intent of the REST style architecture but I think it lends itself to that. I think developers will read about REST and end up just embedding URL's every where and call it REST. The end result is a mess. That's kind of what a lot of folks did when SOAP based Web Services came out. It turned out to be just a bunch of tightly coupled RPC calls.

The REST style of architecture is not bad but there is little tooling for it which means working with raw less than structured data. Most toolsets/platforms present SOAP style Web Services as just another class to the developer. REST proponents might say this is bad and they probably would not be to fond of ORM frameworks as well. That's not an incorrect view just different which is okay.

Another quote from Joe's post (Again from Lorian) -

"“it’s unlikely IBM’s shift to REST will settle the whole REST versus SOAP debate, since SOAP has a heavyweight of its own: Microsoft and its popular SharePoint.”"

Microsoft has REST embedded pretty well with their WCF framework which is part of .Net Framework 3.5. Not a big deal but Microsoft has obviously not ignored REST.

I'm personally not against the REST style of architecture. My issues have always been the way it's presented. Simple, easy to do, it's just the web right? No it's not and the web by the way is not an example of REST architecture contrary to popular belief. Go forth and get some REST or use some SOAP, it really doesn't matter just know what you are getting into.

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