REST Web Services - Seminal Tome for the Web Services Generation

Published on Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Every IT generation has its seminal tome that transcends time and connects the dots in a way that no book had before it. For the object oriented generation in the 1980s, it was the Gang of Four (GoF) book. For the application architecture generation in the 1990s, it was Fowler’s book on patterns (PoEAA). “RESTful Web Services” will be, in my opinion, that book for the 2000s Web services generation.

RESTful Web Services - The Book

There is something absolutely special about this book that readers of GoF or PoEAA will immediately recognize and appreciate. The book covers a breadth of technologies and ideas yet it helps the reader see how they all connect. It uses short code samples (in Ruby, the choice of this generation) to illustrate rather than obfuscate the ideas. Most importantly, it makes the complex comprehensible and delivers epiphany-like experiences throughout the book.

There are too many highlights in this book to enumerate in this review. However, some of the coverage that I appreciated most included:

  • The chapters on resource-oriented design, since there was practically no written information available on this topic prior to this book
  • The chapter on resource-oriented best practices
  • An overview of the service building blocks, including the different representational formats and WADL, which I wasn’t aware of
  • The chapter comparing and contrasting RESTful services with the “Big” (e.g. SOAP) service overhead that is common in most enterprise environments

I would have liked to see this book touch on simple POX versus true REST and handle the resource-oriented security concerns in a bit more detail but you can only ask so much of any one book. I’m fairly confident that “RESTful Web Services”, like the seminal tomes that have gone before it, will become assumed reading