Main Street is a link exchange

Dave Winer already spotted and posted this item:

"The Internet may not be doing so great on Wall Street, but it's doing great on Main Street," said Marshall Cohen, senior vice president for research at America Online. "As far as the people who are online, they're using it more and valuing it more." [ NY Times ]

Although mainstream use of the Internet seems remote from the architectural issues at stake in the REST vs SOAP debate, I think there's a real connection. Sam Ruby finally posted the essay he's been noodling over for many weeks, and it was worth waiting for. Writes Sam:

The key bit of functionality that SOAP applications miss today is the ability to link together resources.

Versions 1.2 of SOAP and WSDL will together address this issue, Sam reports. Excellent!

For Dave, it's all about what developers want:

If a significant number of developers want you to use a cottage cheese and chicken fat interface, I say go for it. [ Scripting News ]

Agreed, but there's another dimension to all this. If the Internet is doing great on Main Street, it's not just because of its developer-oriented machine-to-machine architecture, but also because regular folks can deal with the abstractions presented to them. Whether a developer accesses a service by way of REST or SOAP is, to be sure, just a matter of preference, and nothing a user should care about. But users access services directly too. When they are represented as URLs, users know what to do with them: copy them, and paste them into documents, email messages, and web pages. Here too, there is no necessary distinction between REST and SOAP. Both technologies can produce human-usable URLs for a large and important class of resources including maps, meeting schedules, reservations in progress, and a million other things that we do on Main Street. But we do owe the RESTians thanks for reminding us all that addressable resources matter. They matter to communicating processes, of course. And as Google and the weblogs remind us daily, they matter to people too.

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