Roy Fielding's Misappropriated REST Dissertation

added 29.06.2020 11:33

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I’m not saying that this is exactly how things happened, or that there was an actual conspiracy among irreverent startup types to misappropriate REST, but this story helps me understand how REST became a model for web service APIs when Fielding’s dissertation isn’t about web service APIs at all.

So, given that Fielding’s dissertation was all about avoiding silver bullet software architectures, how did REST become a de facto standard for web services of every kind?

But you could sum up the part of the dissertation where Fielding introduces REST as, essentially, “Listen, we just designed HTTP, so if you also find yourself designing a distributed hypermedia system you should use this cool architecture we worked out called REST to make things easier.”

I thought perhaps that there had been some chaotic experimental period where people were building APIs on top of HTTP all wrong, and then Fielding came along and presented REST as the sane way to do things.

But imagining a separate approach called “FIOH,” that borrowed the “REST” name partly just for marketing reasons, helps me account for the many disparities between what today we know as RESTful APIs and the REST architectural style that Fielding originally described.