It’s just data


Dion Hinchcliffe introduces WOAAlex Bunardzic prefers ROA.  Both articles are excellent — as far as they go.

The root problem that both are attempting to address is that the term SOA has entered the realm of Newspeak.  Take a look at the Wikipedia article on SOA.  It starts out with a perfunctory nod towards inclusiveness with SOA is usually based on Web services standards (e.g., using SOAP or REST) that have gained broad industry acceptance..  It later goes on to enumerate those Web Services protocols: XML, HTTP, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI.  That section concludes with Note, however, that a system does not necessarily need to use any or all of these standards to be “service-oriented.” For example, some service oriented systems have been implemented using Corba.

Newspeak, I’s tells ya.  The terminology itself leads one to think in terms of layers of abstraction and obfuscation to the point where one of the fundamental pillars of the web becomes unthinkable.

Don’t get me wrong.  I agree with pretty much every word in Dion and Alex’s articles.  I particularly like Dion’s admonition against reliance on automatically generated stubs and serial abstractions.  I see it all the time.  Tools and specs that treat either HTML or XML as “merely a serialization format”... i.e., something to be consumed and produced exclusively by tools.

Irony alert: both of these authors often write on the topic of “agility”, and yet nearly a year after Atom was declared ready for implementation, both continue to produce Atom 0.3 feeds.  Lack of agility perhaps?  Or is it that they both treat feeds as merely a serialization format?

No, my problem is that they don’t go far enough.  They don’t address what has become all but unthinkable in these layers of abstractions.

There is a term that you won’t see in the body of Dion’s post.  Or in the body of Alex’s.  Or in the Wikipedia article on SOA.

That term is “hypertext link”.  Or even the term “link”. 

Note: you will find the term “link” in one of the section headers in the Wikipedia article, but that’s merely because Wikipedia itself is “of the web” as opposed to the subject matter being covered by that particular article.

The link is the glue that holds the web together.  It is what differentiates the web from protocols like ftp that merely serve as access methods for documents.

The very notion of a link has become practically inexpressible and virtually unthinkable in the vernacular of SOA.