The name game

Over the weekend my LibraryLookup project stirred up some action on rest-discuss, the Yahoo Groups forum that's dedicated to sorting out the architectural style called REST (Representation State Transfer). At issue was whether, as Tim-Berners Lee once prescribed, a Web application's URI namespace should be opaque. If that axiom holds, it wouldn't be kosher to do what I did: Extract an ISBN from an Amazon URI and inject it into another application. But Roy Fielding, who is co-founder of The Apache Software Foundation, chief scientist at Day Software, and author of the doctoral thesis on REST which provoked the Web services movement to rediscover its roots in the Web, weighed in with this opinion:

"REST does not require that a URI be opaque ... In fact, RESTful applications are, at all times, encouraged to use human-meaningful, hierarchical identifiers in order to maximize the serendipitous use of the information beyond what is anticipated by the original application."
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