REST vs SOAP, the personal cost

By | 2008/01/17

I’ve been thinking about writing this for some time now. In fact, it’s probably way overdue. But there’s no better time than the present, as they say.

I’ve had enough. I’m not participating in any more “REST vs. SOAP” discussions. When I started on this mission to educate those who didn’t understand how the Web could help them, I figured it would be pretty straightforward; I’d explain it, they’d understand, and then we’d all skip away hand-in-hand whistling show tunes. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, I ended up spending on the order of $100K of my own money on travel, as well as the opportunity cost of many hundreds of otherwise billable hours, for what is working out to be essentially nothing in return. If that weren’t enough, my health has suffered the past year or so, in ways I won’t get into here, but that I’m confident are in part attributable to the despair I’ve felt over this extended period of frustration.

The war really has been won, I realize that now. And I’m happy to pat myself on my back for a job well done, despite what it’s cost me. Would I do it over again? No bloody way. I should have just “pulled a Roy” and continued to work with and improve the Web, but restrict my Web services standards work to trying to minimize the harm Web services were doing to the Web (which I was doing, but I went way beyond that). I think Max Planck got it right when he said;

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Oh, and one last thing. I told you so. There, that felt good.

30 thoughts on “REST vs SOAP, the personal cost

  1. Patrick Mueller

    I’d like to thank you for all the effort you’ve put in over the years; we wouldn’t be here without you, I’m convinced. Absolutely convinced. Sorry about the personal cost it’s taken, quite obviously it doesn’t seem fair. But I’m glad you’ve made the effort for us.

  2. John Keyes

    Mark, thanks for all of the hardwork you put in over the years. I was working for a SOAP vendor (well that’s what they originally were anyway) and you were one of the reasons for me seeking a change. So thanks again, I hope your health improves, and I wish you all the best for what you plan next

  3. Pete Lacey

    Mark, If it makes you feel any better, I, for one, feel nothing but unending gratitude for the time you spent in the wilderness fighting the good fight. We all owe you one, and next time we meet drinks are on me.

  4. Chuck Hinson

    I have to second what Pete said – I’m glad you were out there making noise. While Mr Planck may have been right, it never hurts to have someone helping to speed up the process.

  5. Darrel Miller

    I am confident the next generation will clearly see fruits of your labour. You can be sure your efforts are not in vain. I know my company is betting its future on REST, and I personally thank you for being one of the guiding lights that is sparing me from the hell of WSDL, XmlSerializers and generated client proxies.

  6. MikeD

    I have to admit, I unsubscribed from the rest-discuss list a few months ago. After many years of explaining, when the tide turned I was glad to surf away.

    Take a break and don’t take up any causes too soon.

  7. Ron

    and thank you for doing it. I’ve been watching the growth of the cancer that is the WS-* “stack” with dismay.

    All that complexity to make things “easy” when what we’re trying to do isn’t easy.

    Enjoy the REST from the battle and thanks for winning the war.

  8. James Tauber

    Let me echo Pete’s comment. I learnt a lot from you and more than any other person, you helped me “get it”.

  9. Scott Raymond

    I second Pete’s sentiments. I’m really grateful for the evangelizing work you’ve done, and I think the web is better for it.

  10. Patrick Phalen

    A hearty thanks from another (among many) who have followed your campaign from the beginning, with growing wonder and gratitude. You’ve made the world better for it. Be in good health.

  11. Nick Gall

    Mark, Let me just second Pete: the REST community is deeply indebted to you for your tireless evangelism these past years. It was a privilege and a pleasure to get to know you. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

  12. Paul Downey

    Yes, you did tell us all so, and some of us listened, and for that I’m very grateful. And yes, Web services has jumped the shark, fails the giggle test, is now beyond satire and bother, something in no small part due to your tireless work.

  13. Vincent D Murphy

    What Pete and Paul said.


  14. Mike Schinkel

    Well, here’s yet another “Thanks for your pioneering efforts” and I hope your health issues get resolved soon (I can relate.)

  15. Mike Herrick

    Thanks Mark. I appreciate what you did. I’m sorry to hear of your health problems. You are clearly a brilliant guy. Get some sleep & take good care of yourself. Good things are bound to happen. Good luck & thanks again for your efforts.

  16. wiki1000

    I remember that you have ALSO fixed WAP !
    WAP, SOAP; now, we need you for APP :-))

  17. Bill Burke

    It takes awhile for the light to click on when you have CORBA and/or WS-* baggage to overcome. I speak from experience. Wish I could thank you, but Vinoski was the missionary in my case…

  18. Mark Baker

    Thanks everyone, I really really appreciate it. I’ll be around, helping people who *want* to work with the Web do it right. I’m just not going to bother trying to convince those who don’t want to work with the Web, that they should be.

  19. John Kemp

    Congratulations on finding an opportunity to achieve some balance. Being right is nice, but feeling good about it is much better. Thanks for all that you do to educate people.

  20. Mark Baker

    I just fixed my email installation on my Web server and was bombarded with notifications of all these comments which had been queued up. Thank you, thank you everyone, I’m speechless.

  21. Kragen Javier Sitaker

    I wish I could say that it would have happened without you — that the WS-* effect was so obviously harmful that people would have used stuff that works anyway — but I’ve seen enough broken software made to work over the years that I know better.

    So, thanks, Mark, on behalf of the people of Earth, from its most romantic city, Buenos Aires. I hope your health clears up, and I know you’ll keep on doing good things.

  22. Stu Charlton

    I was convinced back in the dist-obj days, needed some re-convincing in 2006 (which you did!), and was quite honoured to be able to present with you at OOPSLA this past year. Can’t say I’m surprised you’ve made this decision, I am pretty close to it myself. ;-)

    The tech world changes slower than one often realizes, primarily because technology is used as fodder for politics. Politics inevitably slows innovation down, sometimes for better, often for the worse.

    Thanks for all of your work.

  23. Simon St.Laurent

    And another big thank you, from someone who had doubts early but fortunately heard from you and Paul Prescod early enough to obliterate those doubts.

    And now I’m having fun with Rails 2.0, where REST just happens!

  24. Allan Doyle

    Mark – Your REST advocacy has been heroic in my book. I first learned about REST in the early ’00s and even back then you had some nice explanations I was able to tap into for inspiration. Thanks!

  25. Paolo Perrotta

    The time you (and others like you) have invested has helped countless others spare their own time and cut through the hype. I owe you a beer, and I suspect many people do.

  26. Marc de Graauw

    Thanks for all you’ve written on REST (and SOA). I learned a lot from it. Looking forward to seeing you work on other subjects.

  27. Carlos E. Perez

    Yes, the tide has definitely turned. A lot of developers are growing up with a instinctive understanding to avoid gratuitous complexity. Thanks for maintaining that constant drumbeat for all those who rebelled against unsound standardization that had been forced upon us.

  28. Pingback: Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Explaining REST to Damien Katz

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