Thursday, December 22, 2011

RESTs marketing problem and how Facebook solved it

Earlier in the year I commented on REST being still born in the enterprise and now Facebook have now deprecated the REST API in favour of a Graph API now I could choose to say this is 'proof' that REST doesn't work for the Web either. That would be silly for a couple of reasons

  1. The new API appears to be RESTful anyway
  2. REST clearly can work on the web
No, what this really shows is that you have an issue with naming conventions.   The folks at Facebook called the first API the 'REST API' which meant when they felt that there were problems with it they then had two options
  1. Have a new API called REST API 2.0
  2. Create a new name
Now the use of the term 'Graph' I think is actually a good move and one that is much more effective than the term 'REST' in describing what 'REST' is actually good at: the traversal of complex, inter-related, networks of information.  Now this is actually a concept that resonates and has much less of the religious fundamentalism that often comes with REST.

Pulling this into the Business Information space of enterprises could be an interesting way of starting to shift reporting and information management solutions away from structured SQL type approaches into more adhoc and user centric approaches.  'Graph based reporting' is something I could see catching on much better than 'REST'.  So have Facebook actually hit on a term that will help drive RESTs adoption?  Probably not in the system to system integration space, but possibly in the end-user information aggregation/reporting space.

Time will of course tell, but dropping the term 'REST' from the name is a good start.

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