Although the choice of whether to pick between WS-* and REST when deciding to build services on the Web seems like a foregone conclusion, there seems to be one or two arguments on the WS-* that refuse to die. You can find a them in the notes on the talk by Sanjiva Weerawarana at QCon, WS-* vs. REST: Mashing up the Truth from Facts, Myths and Lies 

  • history: why were WS created? people were doing XML over HTTP in 1998/1999
  • everyone invented their own way to do security, reliability, transactions, … (e.g. RosettaNet, ebXML)
  • Biggest criticism of SOAP in 2000: lack of security
  • REST-* is on its way - ARGH!

Today you can find other members of the Web Services community echoing some of Sanjiva’s points. You have Don Box in his blog post entitled Yes Steve, I've Tried saying

I wouldn't call myself an advocate for any specific technology (ducks), but I've spent a lot of time doing HTTP stuff, including a recent tour of duty to help out on our .NET 3.5 support for REST in WCF.

I have to say that the authentication story blows chunks.

Having to hand-roll yet another “negotiate session key/sign URL” library for J. Random Facebook/Flickr/GData clone doesn't scale. 

and even Sam Ruby adds his voice in agreement with his post  Out of the Frying Pan where he writes

I’d suggest that the root problem here has nothing to to with HTTP or SOAP, but rather that the owners and operators of properties such as Facebook, Flickr, and GData have vested interests that need to be considered.

For once I have to agree with Sanjiva and disagree with Sam and Don. The folks at Google, Yahoo!  and a bunch of the other Silicon Valley startups realize that having umpteen different application interfaces, authentication and authorization stories is a pain for developers build mashups, widgets and full blown Web applications. The answer isn’t as Don argues that we all jump on WS-* or as Sam suggests that Web companies have a vested interest keeping the situation fragmented so we have to live with it.

In fact, we are already on the road to REST-* as a way to address this problem. What happens when you put together AtomPub/GData, OpenID, OAuth and OpenSocial? Sounds a lot like the same sort of vision Microsoft was pitching earlier in the decade, except this time it is built on a sturdier foundation [not crap like SOAP, WSDL and XSD] and is being worked on collaboratively by members of the Web community instead of a bunch of middleware vendors.

It’s unsurprising that Don and Sam don’t realize this is occuring given that their employers (Microsoft and IBM respectively) are out of the loop on most of this evolution which is primarily being by driven by Google and it’s coalition of the willing. Then again, it does remind me of how IBM and Microsoft pulled the same thing on the industry with WS-*. I guess turnabout is fair play. Wink

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