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What is REST, really? "The Design of Network-based Software Architectures"

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Craig S.


Please join us for lunch and interesting conversations as we discuss the architecture of the web, wrapping up our discussion of Roy Fielding's thesis. As always, reading in advance is encouraged but not required. We would love to talk with you!

This will be our last meeting of 2018! Our next meeting will likely be 17 January 2019. Happy holidays/CodeMash, everyone!

Roy Fielding's PhD thesis ( ), published in the year 2000, was intended to describe and improve the architecture of the then-nascent and burgeoning World Wide Web. Today it's almost equally known (if not always _read_) for Fielding's coinage of the moniker Representational State Transfer (REST). In some ways, this makes its impact doubly significant: It was the best description of the architecture of the web when published, and it is still influencing the evolution of the web today.

Today, it's common to (perhaps incorrectly) use the term "REST" to describe something decidedly unlike what Fielding describes in his dissertation, such as OpenAPI. While acknowledging that there is no single architectural style which is appropriate for every purpose, it is worthwhile to understand accurately what Fielding described, a year before the "invention" of JSON.

This is the first time Papers We Love Columbus has read a college thesis. If it's your first time as well, I recommend you start with this _very, very short_ guide to what a PhD is.

Fielding's thesis is divided into 6 chapters. The introduction plus the first three essentially set the stage for the major contributions to follow. One useful way to think about the structure of the thesis in hindsight is to consider it in reverse: Chapters 5-6 describe REST and how to evaluate it in light of the methodology described in the preceding chapters. Chapter 3 describes different sorts of architectural styles for network-based applications, with a particular interest in hypermedia systems such as the world wide web. Chapters 1-2 discuss how to evaluate such systems.

If you have any questions while you are approaching this material, please reach out in the discussion forums on Meetup or on Twitter ( ) and I can try to help out!
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