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by Jay Fienberg

Thinking about URIs and interfaces for iCites

posted: May 13, 2003 2:11:19 PM

This morning, before I got on my computer, I was brainstorming some ideas about how iCites should be accessed--in particular about URIs and using HTTP GET and POST. Then, I came across this great post from Tim Bray on The Soap/xml-Rpc/rest Saga, Chap. 51, which is excellent background and perspective on the kinds of things I am wrestling with.

I also just came across this post from Sam Ruby on REST purity which is good to read along with Tim's, and at this point already includes some good back-and-forth comments between Sam and Dave Winer (whom I now see is also talking about this in his Simple Admonition) and Timothy Appnel.

iCite gateways allow different protocols to access iCites, and gateways also determine the format of the interactions with the iCite. The first prototype gateways that I am working on are HTTP, XHTML, and RSS. So, right now, I am thinking about URLs and GET and POST. I also imagine SOAP and XML-RPC gateways, and doing an XML-RPC gateway would be next on my prototype list after the HTTP/XHTML/RSS gateways.

I am sure I need to build the iCite net out more to show people what is what with it, and start getting feedback on these matters. I don't assume I can figure them all out myself in a vacuum (and voila, this blog). But, I am thinking right now about how extensive the prototype should be, in terms of showing these different ways to work with iCites. It is too soon to say, but I just assume that the REST approach will have some advantages, and the SOAP/XML-RPC will have other advantages, when it comes to interfacing with the iCite API.

btw, I should mention one of the features I was thinking about this morning when I was thinking about URIs and GET and POST: iCite views. Basically, when someone creates a query on an iCite--say, using HTTP GET with all kinds of parameters, that query can be saved and given a new compact URI. This is something like the wonderful TinyURL, which let's you create a tiny URL that redirects to any other URL (especially a long messy one).

So, for example (and this is what I was thinking about how the URIs would work--other variations are being explored as well), if an iCite lives at:

a query might look like:

that query could be saved to the iCite, and accessible at:

One of the things I think will be fun about iCites is that you can create them and put features into them, but then you can allow other people to add new features to them and make those available to others as well. So, one example of this is creating new views and making those accessible. (Plus, one more fun fact--the view of an iCite doesn't have to live on the iCite it is a view of!)

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