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Monday, March 28, 2005

Reconciling Modal Web Apps and Rest

Mark Baker comments on how continuation-based modal web applications fit the REST style...

"This is how most web applications work.". Actually, it isn't. Most Web applications are stateless. Of those that aren't, the vast majority are only stateful for authentication purposes.
Here's how I've started to view the relationship of the modal web app style and the REST style:
  • Work-in-pogress interactions seem to be programmed AJAX-style, GOTO-style, Modal-style, or "richer-client" style.
  • Modal web applications simplify programming controllers for work-in-progress over HTTP.
  • Continuation-based interactions are not necessarily RESTful.
  • As work-in-progress is "published" those pieces of work become resources with various representations, etc.
  • Publishing (perhaps partially as a "proposal") completed work as resources can be RESTful.
  • Accessing (perhaps partially) completed work as resources can be RESTful.
So I think modal and RESTful can be seen as somewhat complementary styles or at least aimed at different purposes. Perhaps they don't have to be completely unified if they meet their purposes with little risk of interference between implementations.


Mark said...

Yes, totally agreed. I wasn't disputing that there was a need in some cases for stateful interactions - voice browsing comes to mind - I was just saying that the Web is currently largely stateless.

Reg said...

Where would you see Seaside with respect to the criteria you listed aboove.

Patrick Logan said...

Seaside is a modal web server. I don't think it is trying to be RESTful. Rather it is trying to simplify and increase the end usability of HTTP-based interactions with web browsers.

I think the result of a Seaside transaction could be published to a RESTful web server, e.g. the one that is hosting Seaside or the Apache server next door.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.