Gartner Research

RESTful Web Applications and Services

Published: 13 May 2011

ID: G00212123

Analyst(s): Richard Watson


Representational State Transfer (REST) is a formal description of the architectural model of the World Wide Web. REST is also a lesson in applying the Web's principles to the design of other software systems. Web architecture will remain an underexploited source of value in the enterprise unless there is a deliberate shift toward using REST principles. That shift begins with understanding REST's architectural constraints that make systems more accessible, usable, scalable, higher performing, and maintainable. Research Director Richard Watson assesses REST as an architecture style for building enterprise Web applications and services.

Table Of Contents

Summary of Findings


  • Enterprise Drivers for REST
    • Responding to the Macro Trends
    • Web APIs Are Shop Fronts, Not Back Doors
    • Not Just for Web Natives
    • Myth: SOA and REST Are Mutually Exclusive
  • Just Enough REST
    • Rule 1. Give Every "Thing" an Identifier
    • Rule 2. Support Multiple Representations of Each Resource
    • Rule 3: Use the Uniform HTTP Interface
    • Rule 4: Communicate Statelessly
    • Rule 5: Use Hyperlinks to Tell the Client What to Do Next
  • Resource Orientation: Thinking in Nouns
    • Comparing RESTful Web Services to SOAP
  • Enterprise Adoption Challenges
    • Doing REST Badly Is a Risk
    • Mind-Set Challenges
    • Technical Factors
    • Management Challenges
  • Industry Momentum
    • RESTful APIs Take over the Programmable Web
    • Frameworks for Building RESTful Applications
    • Improving Vendor Support
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Assess the Development Team's Readiness for REST
  • Understand System Requirements First, then Pick an Architecture Style
  • Provide Guidance for When It Is Appropriate to Use REST
  • Start Small, but Start Right Away
  • Invest in People, Not Software Licenses
  • Sell REST to the Corner Office (by Not Selling It)
  • Leave Service Interface-Style Choice to the Consumer
  • Prepare to Think About Application Systems Differently

The Details

  • Understanding REST: From Constraints to Value
    • REST Constraints: More than the Sum of Their Parts
    • Additional Uniform Interface Constraints
    • Translating the Properties of RESTful Systems into Value
  • REST Frameworks
    • JAX-RS

Further Information

Recommended Reading

  • Discussion Groups
  • Blogs to Follow
  • Selected Articles
  • Dissenting Voices


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