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REST transforming the world of web service

Overview

Thomas Roy Fielding describes an architectural style in his study and named it the Representational State Transfer Architecture (REST). REST is based on principles, which are used in the largest distributed application - the World Wide Web(WWW). Without intention there are many search engines, shops or booking systems that are already available as REST based Web services. The Representational State Transfer architecture is an architecture that describes how the Web should work. REST is neither a product nor a standard.

REST is a simple way to classify interactions between systems. It's been gaining popularity since 2005, such as the Twitter API and all. This is all due to the fact that REST allows you to interact with minimal overhead with clients as independent to endpoint device. In detail, REST is not tied to the web, but it's almost always implemented like service, and was inspired through  HTTP. As a result, REST can be used wherever HTTP can.

The alternative is building relatively complex conventions on top of HTTP. Often, this takes the shape of entire new XML-based languages. The most illustrious example is SOAP. You have to learn a completely new set of conventions, but you never use HTTP to its fullest power. Because REST has been inspired by HTTP and plays to its strengths, it is the small way to learn how HTTP works.

Evolution (From SOAP to REST)

XML Web services brought a revolution in the way to B2B interactions in today’s digital world. Logistics, transportation, invoicing and other retail sectors were revolutionized, since real-time updates in the digital field are now possible to achieve. For example checking the availability of multiple products like tickets(for games and transportation), knowledge, ordering and paying for them, it is now possible now with  minimal efforts or human interactions.

One of the big barriers to web service integration is usually the different architecture of the systems involved (especially legacy systems). Sending and receiving XML messages was handled in different ways. To address this unification challenge, SOAP (Simple Object Access) protocol was suggested along with its complementary suite of WS-* services (WS-Addressing, WS-Discovery, WS-Federation, WS-Policy, etc.)

SOAP is mature and well tested, but sometimes it is too complicated to implement to the existing system. Not all systems require such level of security and flexibility. Several systems took the alternative road of using REST  services. The REST solution is considered as a better way to lightweight than SOAP which attract several organization(working with integration)  to either offer REST along with SOAP capabilities or even switch there system’s  to REST.

But  REST also suffers from several faults. The major one is the formal specification. The original REST study is the PHD thesis by Roy Fielding(known for evolution of REST), and that was published in 2000. It has been 17 years from now and still discussions on what REST are going on, what it requires and what it forbids. restful architectures are always discussed.

Future With Rest

RESTful APIs are slowly being regarded as superior to service-oriented architectures. But what does that mean for architects and developers. In the today’s world of applications, the most enduring debate seems to be the one between service-oriented architecture and representational state transfer.

SOA has become  typecast as rigid and heavyweight approaches to component connection and workflow, and REST is gaining attraction. In both characterizations are simplistic, but to get started with RESTful API design, architects and developers have to understand the differences between SOA and REST, track the evolution of REST with the cloud and microservices and know how to build solid and compliant RESTful workflows.

SOA is an evolutionary approach that does not require a rip-and-replace of infrastructure and applications but does generally require buy-in from the business to gain the major benefits, such as functional component reuse, efficient use of assets and business flexibility through the rapid provisioning of composite applications to meet changes in business processes. SOA can provide a far more responsive solution to business process change. The composite solution, built on discrete functional components, is no longer dependent on application specific workflows, and visual process tools can enable processes to be changed on the fly.

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