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   Re: [xml-dev] Elliotte Rusty Harold on Web Services

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On Monday 10 February 2003 08:52 am, Alaric B. Snell wrote:
> I'm concerned that people think it's normal for protocols, languages, and
> so on to be used for things they were never designed for.
> Because it will only be by luck or by hacks that it will be as good as
> those tasks as things that were *designed* for them.

True enough. Very few systems are designed to be easily extensible. HTTP is 
certainly so mostly by a combination of luck and evolution.

> I see many arguments for using HTTP to do everything based on the fact that
> it's one of the most generic TCP protocols in the RFC series, so you can
> build stuff on top of it rather than having to write your own protocol for
> everything and reinventing all the basics.

Yes. HTTP wasn't *designed* on REST principals. It wasn't *designed* for 
anything other than fetching web pages (kind of like gopher). It's simplicity 
led to generally good decisions architecturally, but more importantly, to 
ease of implementation. Once people grokked that a server is going to see

   GET /my/document.html HTTP/0.9

it's really, really a trivial step to associate /my/document.html with things 
other than documents. I know people that used named pipes before CGI was 
invented, for example (a hack I still use when I need an XML entity for the 
current date and time ;-)), and I know I proposed a syntax for path segments 
that would allow addressing into databases (both RDBMS and OODBMS) before 
'95... and wrote software that used a standard syntax to allow URL 
composition in 1994. 

> But I'd far rather we just came up with a proper protocol and then based
> HTTP on top of *that* :-)

Yes. There was a lot of interesting work done on HTTP-NG by Simon Spiro, but 
that effort seems to have died. Might be time to come up with something 
else... Roy is working on an HTTP derivative, but from first blush, is 
doesn't appear different enough to justify the effort.


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