I tried to spread the REST gospel at work yesterday. Surprisingly, I think it may have had some impact. REST is so simple that's it's hard to ignore. But my boss seems to have other ideas about what a "real API" is.

REST, if you don't know, uses the semantics of HTTP to access objects and perform actions on them.

We need an API so that a third-party order entry system can access our data and display thumbnails and metadata and that sort of thing. The options my boss laid out were:

  1. Stateless session bean EJB. I am not a big fan of EJBs because they are extremely complex...but aside from that I don't know much about them, so I can't comment.
  2. SOAP wrappers for our commands
  3. "Some sort of JSP that spits out XML"

When he said #3, I yelled out "REST!" to a roomful of blank stares. I explained a little about how REST works and then I sent out an email with some tasty REST links.

Now I hear people walking around the halls saying stuff like "SOAP or REST", so the meme is spreading. I'm not sure if it did any good, though, because my boss really, really likes EJBs. Give him a problem, and he sees EJBs as the solution.

REST is nice, though, because it can be used with very little knowledge about the rest of the system, which you can't say about EJBs and is less true with SOAP.