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REST vs. SOAP at Amazon

by Tim O'Reilly
Apr. 3, 2003

I was recently talking with Jeff Barr, creator of syndic8 and now Amazon's chief web services evangelist. He let drop an interesting tidbit. Amazon has both SOAP and REST interfaces to their web services, and 85% of their usage is of the REST interface. Despite all of the corporate hype over the SOAP stack, this is pretty compelling evidence that developers like the simpler REST approach. (I know there are many more complex applications where SOAP is better, but I've always liked technologies that have low barriers to entry and grassroots adoption, and simple XML over HTTP approach seems to have that winning combination.)

Amazon's web services have attracted a thriving community, people are making real money building alternate interfaces to Amazon and collecting Associates commissions on the resulting sales, and there are even tool developers who have come up with the creative business model of agreeing with their users to have some percentage of the transactions use the tool developer's Associates id rather than the site owner's. Cool.

Amazon is holding a free all day web services workshop on April 22 at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference. The event is open to people not registered at the conference (though space is limited to 50 people).

Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O'Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim's blog, the O'Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim's long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O'Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

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