Does a REST API on the Web even matter ?

Bill notes the Amazon SimpleDB ‘REST’ API isn’t really REST. Over on REST discuss, others note the same thing. In fact, there’s already a Rail’s proxy that provides an alternative, RESTful interface.

Hopefully, the commentary will convince Amazon to revisit the the API, and bring it into alignment with the rest of the web.

But what if they don’t ?

We think about API’s a lot here, since extensible frameworks depend on good, usable interfaces. But what about infrastructure like storage and databases ? Do the API’s matter ? Does anyone really care whether the Amazon API is truly RESTFul? Do they care enough to make that a significant decision factor in their use of simple DB ?

We often operate on the assumption that API’s matter as much as functionality. Although it’s always a pleasure to use a well designed API, in any language or any style, I’ve seen as many bad API examples as good ones. And it seems that in many cases, the API is secondary to the functionality – if someone needs the functionality, they will get around API hurdles.

Will a poor API that isn’t RESTful be the downfall of SimpleDB ? I doubt it. Someday, we will get to a level of uniform data services on the Web . In the meantime, as long as the SimpleDB API is good enough to use, we will all just implement workarounds, with plenty of new libraries and code.


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