Review: RESTful Web Services

restThis is a book review for “RESTful Web Services” by Leonard Richardson and Sam Ruby

If you want to get under the hood and really understand how to properly implement a RESTful web service then this book is for you. The treatment of the topic is excellent. After reading this book, I feel that so many folks out there writing “REST” apis, myself included, have written variants of a REST-RPC hybrid, versus a true REST implementation. REST after all in its true form is really a total change of mindset when it comes to creating a web-service and this book helps you get there. The author does not turn this into a REST vs. SOAP discussion but rather preps the reader quite well by exploring the history of web-services and very clearly explaining the differences between all the different approaches, and positives/negatives of each (RPC, REST-RPC, SOAP, WS-*, etc) Secondly the author give a primer on the basic tools used to implement REST clients in various languages by covering the various popular HTTP client libs out there (cURL, Apache HttpClient, rest-open-uri, libcurl etc). The author also presents a discussion and explanation of “Resource Oriented Architecture” and walks the reader through several example implementations (both Read-only and read-write) as well as the RESTful thought process behind the design. The author gives excellent treatment to the differences between when to use a PUT vs. POST and explains the rules around making that decision, which, can be difficult to understand which to use in the real world. The book also shows various ways of implementing a REST service when some of the HTTP methods simply are not available (primarily PUT/DELETE) due to your HTTP server setup. Lastly the book covers some server-side frameworks that are available and the one I found the most interesting, which I hope to work with soon, is the Java project called Restlet.

Readers will also find the HTTP status code and headers reference very valuable, as for each status code/header, the author gives very clear descriptions of their meaning in a RESTful web-service. Very valuable!

Recommeded? Yes, go get it today.
Skills: Java/Ruby/Python – intermediate to advanced.

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