Launching APISpark at GigaOM Mobilize 2012! August 23, 2012Posted by Jerome Louvel in APISpark, Restlet General.
The end of 2012 is full of exciting changes for Restlet at both the open source and the company levels, including the upcoming release of Restlet Framework 2.1.0, the printed version of ‘Restlet in Action’ book and the launch of a new product : APISpark!
Restlet wins Mobilize LaunchPad
Restlet is proud to be one of the 10 winners of the LaunchPad event organized by GigaOM. GigaOM is a popular research firm covering the major disruptive technologies (including cloud computing, connected life and big data) and their impact on markets. The final competition will take place on stage during their Mobilize 2012 event in San Francisco on September 20.
We will use this opportunity to launch our new APISpark online platform that we consider as a major step for our company, as important as the launch of Restlet Framework open source project in 2005, when it became the first REST framework for Java to launch!
APISpark reinvents web API development
APISpark is the first Platform as a Service (PaaS) to let you fully create, host, use and manage web APIs from a simple web browser. With an important focus on usability, it aims to be usable by any person involved in a web API project, on both the API provider side (owner, manager, developer) and on the API user side (guest, authorized user).
Existing solutions require you to either rely on a one-size-fits-all web API provided by a mobile backend vendor, or to use a low-level technical web API from an on-line database or finally to pick-up a web API development framework (such as Restlet Framework) and to combine it with a web API management solution.
With the first two solutions you loose much control and ends up with a generic web API (comparable to a CMS with a fixed set of pages). Instead, your web API should expose your domain resources with custom resources, URIs and representations. In addition, most existing solutions limits you to JSON variants, excluding other variants (such as XML, CSV or HTML) that might be required.
With the third solution, you can have full control on your web API but at the expense of a much longer development process. Then, you need to take care of its hosting and operations, maybe using a web API manager which act as an HTTP proxy, relaying API calls after control to your actual web API, introducing another layer of complexity and network latency.
APISpark innovates by radically addressing all those issues at the same time (and a few more !), using the Restlet Framework as a powerful and proven technical foundation, our ROA/D methology (covered in Appendix D of “Restlet in Action”) as a design guidelines for the user experience. Contrary to Restlet Framework, it doesn’t required strong knowledge of REST (even though it helps!) or of the Java language.
As hinted in the UI excerpt above, any web developer can use APISpark to develop and run its web API. It can take as little as 1 minute in the best case (thanks to API templates) or a few hours if you start from scratch! Using APIs published on APISpark is equally easy, with access to on-line and off-line documentation, client SDKs and built-in access management.
To learn more about APISpark, please join us at GigaOM Mobilize next month. We would be pleased to meet you personally (email@example.com). If you haven’t done so yet, you can become one of the first to get access to the beta version when we launch by signing up at http://apispark.com!
- DailyMotion – Video recording of our launch including the feed-back from the VCs panel
- Some pictures below (thanks to Sébastien Rouif)
The battle of APIs rages for IaaS domination June 23, 2012Posted by Jerome Louvel in Ecosystem, Restlet General.
add a comment
AWS is becoming the Windows of cloud era
Thanks to its disruptive and fast-paced innovations, Amazon has built a comprehensive and dominant IaaS stack that inspires all of us. It started first with virtualized machines (EC2) and large scale file storage (S3) and has completed its offering both horizontally (DynamoDB, Elastic MapReduce, ElasticSearch, IAM, etc.).
Many applications have tied themselves to their web APIs which are necessary to use their web services. AWS APIs have therefore become the “de facto” standard APIs for cloud computing, despite the fact that they are proprietary, lack in RESTful design and use custom security schemes.
Using AWS APIs to compete with AWS
Other infrastructure providers have been working hard to build alternatives. The first approach is simple in theory: let’s accept the AWS APIs as the current standard and try instead to provide and alternative implementation, as much compatible as possible.
Eucalyptus has been a leader on this front with its open source project, even if other providers such as Apache CloudStack and OpenStack are offering some level of compatibility as well. Eucalyptus currently provides alternative implementations for most popular AWS APIs : S3, EC2, EBS, AMI and IAM.
Even though this strategy illustrates the power of web APIs, there are several issues to keep in mind.
The API compatibility issue
The first one is that it is very hard to support all AWS APIs and then to support 100% of their features in a way that is fully portable. This difficulty is strongly pointed out by Lew Moorman, President of Rackspace, in a talk he gave at GigaOM Structure conference and further explained by Thorsten von Eicken from RightScale in this post.
The API copyright issue
Another major concern is the fact that it isn’t clear at this stage whether or not implementing those APIs respects their copyright. This question is not to be taken lightly as we can see Oracle and Google currently fighting in Court regarding the fact that Google copied the core Java APIs in order to provide an alternative implementation in Android. See this blog post from Kin Lane for details.
It is interesting to note that Eucalyptus and AWS have recently signed an agreement, that encourages the implementation of all AWS APIs which is likely a way for AWS to counter the lock-in argument that they probably face frequently. Still, this is an unstable legal position and until AWS releases those APIs in open source, that legal uncertainty will remain.
Update: a recent ruling indicates that in Android’s case, Google used Java APIs didn’t infringe on Oracle’s copyright. Thanks to J.P. Figer for the remark.
Creating alternative open source stacks
Below is an illustration for OpenStack, which is promoted by RackSpace and a large number of partner companies. Note that at this stage it doesn’t provide an alternative to managed databases such as AWS RDS or DynamoDB.
There is no winner yet and we’ll have to watch those projects evolve and new one emerge. While OpenStack appears to have a lot of traction, it recently saw NASA and Citrix changing strategy. NASA now promotes usage of AWS (thanks to Jean-Paul Figer for the pointer) and Citrix has bought Cloud.com and gave the code to Apache Foundation to initiate the CloudStack project.
In the long term, some truly standard and open APIs will definitely emerge for commodity IaaS features, following the example of Atom/AtomPub experience in the blog space or the POSIX experience for file systems.
However, it is unlikely that a one size fits all solution will soon become the Linux of the cloud. It will probably take more time for things to settle down.
For now, we will live in a world of diversity, innovation and complexity, where APIs and open source infrastructure pieces coexist and fight for developers mind share and usage. Here is an example of alternative stack to AWS.
Many alternative object storages systems are competing such as Ceph, providing APIs for compatibility with S3 API, POSIX API and others such as CIFS.
The same is true for computing and image management, and especially for cloud-scale databases such as Cassandra, MongoDB, Redis and so on.
The main drawback for this diversity is the need to operate those pieces, either directly or via partners when AWS offers an all-in-one solution.
Watching this battle going on will be fun. The GigaOM Structure event that was held this week in San Francisco provided a great stage for debate and collective thinking as summarized by this series of blog posts:
- If AWS is the Walmart of cloud, is OpenStack the Soviet Union?
- The Amazon API battle for the cloud rages on
- Amazon’s Werner Vogels on next 5 years of cloud
- Wired – Cloning Amazon Is a Dead End, Says Cloud Rival Rackspace
- GigaOM Pro - Mapping Session results: IaaS endgame
If you missed it, you have a chance to catch up with the first edition of this event that will be held in Europe next October.
The road ahead, from Noelios to Restlet February 25, 2012Posted by Jerome Louvel in Ecosystem, Restlet General, Uncategorized.
An exciting landscape
The past few months have been intense for our company as we worked behind the scenes to prepare the next stages of our development. Thanks to the continuous adoption of REST principles, the web API market is quickly maturing and offering us new opportunities.
A few days ago, the ProgrammableWeb directory announced that the bar of 5 000 registered APIs had been reached, with an astounding growth rate.
Our current goal is to expand our activities on top of the open source Restlet Framework in order to better address the needs of this API market.
Launching APISpark.com soon!
More concretely, we have been building APISpark since 2010 as an innovative PaaS product offering an all-in-one platform for web APIs, from creation to hosting, using a simple web browser.
Of course, APISpark extensively leverages the Restlet Framework but aims at radically simplifying the web API experience for both developers, managers, owners and users.
We are launching the private beta in the coming weeks and are looking for a additional testers and pilot projects. To join us in this new and exciting adventure, just sign up on the http://apispark.com web site!
Restlet is our new company name
As we wanted to focus all the company on our open source roots, by both leveraging and strengthening the “Restlet” brand, we have changed our company name from Noelios Technologies (SARL) to just Restlet (SAS).
This change has no effect on the open source project which will continue to operate as before from the http://www.restlet.org web site. The company web site will be available in parallel at http://www.restlet.com.
As big changes don’t come alone, we have updated our visual identity and relocated to new headquarters at ESSEC Ventures, inside the beautiful CNIT building in La Défense, near Paris.
Finally, Alexis Menard, an ESSEC student in Entrepreneurship has joined our team to help us on business development aspects for a 6 months internship. Welcome Alexis!
The road ahead
Beside launching APISpark, we will keep enhancing the Restlet Framework and even expanding it into a comprehensive Restlet Platform over the coming years, including new blocks such as :
- Restlet Studio, an Eclipse-based IDE for either model-driven or Java-driven Restlet applications development
- Restlet Forge, an open source build forge letting developers reuse the best of our internal build tools (multi-edition, multi-distribution, etc.)
- Restlet Apps, an open source set of highly reusable and extensible Restlet applications for common needs (RESTful search engine, etc.)
- Restlet Cloud, an online hosting service to easily deploy your Restlet applications, from Restlet Forge, from Restlet Studio or from APISpark
For additional details, you can read chapter 11 of the “Restlet in Action” book, which is finally entering into the pre-production phase.
Seven years after Restlet launch as an open source framework, we are still excited about the potential of REST and committed to our original mission of helping you realize your web ideas… thanks to RESTful web APIs!
Restlet improves OSGi support: new edition and update site November 9, 2011Posted by Jerome Louvel in Eclipse, Equinox, OSGi, Restlet, Restlet General.
While OSGi has been for a long time an important deployment environment for Restlet developers, including an innovative project lead by NASA JPL, we have seen a surge of interest in the recent years.
The rise of REST, the addition of an Eclipse Public License option to Restlet and an increased effort from Restlet community is starting to bring new fruits!
Edition for OSGi Environments
Since version 1.1, Restlet has always tried to be friendly to OSGi developers by ensuring that each Restlet module distributed as a JAR file was also a valid OSGi bundle, including correct manifest information.
We also ensured that dependent libraries were distributed as bundles as part of the various Restlet editions and distributions (Zip and Windows installer).
In practice, OSGi development isn’t supported on platforms such as Android, GAE and GWT, leaving the developer free to choose from either the Java SE or Java EE editions of Restlet, as both contain different extensions usable in OSGi such as the Servlet and Jetty extensions.
Progressively, we realized that a new edition of Restlet dedicated to OSGi environments such as Equinox and Felix was necessary to clarify the situation and make space for more OSGi specific features.
Eclipse Update Site
In addition, we worked hard on providing a new distribution channel specific to this OSGi edition : an Eclipse Update Site supporting easy installation and automated update right from Eclipse.
Note that this is only recommended if you intended to develop OSGi applications leveraging Restlet, not applications for other target environments such as Java EE or GAE. In the later cases, you should either manually copy the JAR files in your Eclipse project or rely on our Maven repository using a tool such as m2eclipse.
In order to use the Eclipse update site, you should simply use this URL: http://p2.restlet.org/2.1/
More detailed instructions about using this update site are available on this page.
Restlet integration with ECF
This integration supports the OSGi Remote Services specification by adding REST/HTTP bindings based on Restlet and leveraging the Restlet extension for OSGi introduced below.
Upcoming Restlet extension
Finally, based on work initiated via a Google Summer of Code project in 2010, a Restlet extension for OSGi is entering in the Restlet Incubator with the goal to become part of the 2.2 version of the framework.
The extension facilitates the development of very dynamic Restlet applications, supporting for example the live addition of resources and virtual hosts.
Step after step, Restlet support for OSGi and the Eclipse ecosystem is growing and we will continue to work in this direction, with plans to add visual tooling for Restlet in Eclipse and to provide more integration with OSGi standard services such as the log service. As always, stay tuned!
Can the rise of SPDY threaten HTTP? October 6, 2011Posted by Jerome Louvel in General, REST, Restlet, Restlet General.
The announce of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet last week was not yet another tablet launch in this already crowded market. This tablet came with a new way of browsing the Web using limited mobile devices, leveraging the power of the cloud in term of network connectivity, processing power and storage capabilities.
The most exciting part of Kindle Fire isn’t its hardware but its Silk browser and the cloud browsing infrastructure it leverages to achieve what they call split browsing.
This radical change in the way we might browse the mobile Web tomorrow, is the result of combining the traditional caching Web proxies used in large organizations to save their bandwidth, with the capabilities of Amazon cloud infrastructure.
The goal is to provide a faster browsing experience by adjusting web content (such as scaling down images) to the capabilities of the devices and offering better network latency thanks Amazon data centers connectivity and caching capabilities (think about using AWS S3 and CloudFront).
The final radical change that they made and which triggered this blog post, is the usage by the Silk browser of the SPDY protocol created by Google as a potential replacement for HTTP, already supported in the Chrome browser.
Can this become the beginning of the end of HTTP ?
HTTP history so far…
As you know, HyperText Transfer Protocol was early on a key stone in the Web building. It started as notes written by Tim Berners Lee in 1991. After an IETF standardization effort, the first standard HTTP/1.0 version (RFC 1945) was published by Tim Berners Lee, Roy T. Fielding and Henrik Frystyk in 1996.
With the exponential growth of the Web, it became quickly urgent to improve this protocol and address scalability, performance and interoperability issues observed in the field.
The version 1.1 of HTTP is now used by the vast majority of web sites, web APIs and web clients today, but there are still questions regarding the interpretation of its now aging and monolithic specification.
In 2007, an IETF working group was launch to revise HTTP/1.1 and address those issues, but without actually changing the protocol.
Refactoring with HTTP/1.1 bis
This HTTP/1.1 bis initiative led by Mark Nottingham and involving Julian Resche, Roy Fielding, Yves Lafon and a few others is now well advanced and we can hope this work to be complete soon, maybe next year. This rewrite of RFC 2616 splits the specification in 7 parts as illustrated below.
At the bottom, we find the Messaging part which deals with the HTTP connections management, raw message syntax and HTTP(S) URI schemes.
The layers above describe the semantics of HTTP and the major features offered such as caching, authentication, conditional requests and ranged requests. Those layers are exactly what the Restlet API exposes using Java as detailed in this mapping table.
The timing is perfect because pressure to bypass the limitations, real or perceived, of HTTP/1.1 is increasing.
The rise of alternatives
To overcome limitations of HTTP, especially for near real-time client updates, techniques such as Comet have emerged, pushing HTTP into its limits.
To overcome those limits, the HTML 5 WG has initiated a new WebSocket protocol that allows bidirectional exchanges between a browser and a server, only using HTTP for the initial handshake.
This protocol has been taken over at IETF in a bidirectional or server-initiated HTTP working group but it is unlikely at this point that this protocol will attempt to respect REST constraints (see this blog post).
The problem with all those techniques and new protocols is that they require your browser to open and maintain several HTTP connections to the same remote server, increasing the scalability issues.
Even if usage of non-blocking IO can help deal with those issues (as supported by the Restlet Framework), this makes things more complex than they should be, at least from a network TCP/IP point of view.
This is were the SPDY protocol offers an innovative solution by multiplexing several HTTP streams over a single connections. Those streams can go in both directions and be initiated by either the client or the server side.
In addition, SPDY proposes an alternative messaging layer to HTTP/1.1 but intents to stay compatible with all other HTTP layers above as described by HTTP/1.1 bis!
Better than a threat, SPDY design qualities and its growing support and usage by key players such as Google and Amazon is probably more a chance HTTP to see a version 2.0 defined and getting enough interest to succeed.
This new version could replace the existing messaging part of HTTP/1.1 by a fully multiplexed and compact alternative based on SPDY (see Wikipedia page) and other alternatives such as Roy T. Fielding’s own Waka or HTTP-MPLEX.
If you think this is just a wishful dream and that things so fundamental to the Web can’t change … then read this blog post from Mark Nottingham about SPDY (ex-FLIP) written back in 2009 and talking about a potential HTTP/2.0.
For sure, we are going to experiment with SPDY in next 2.2 version of the Restlet Framework and explore the future of HTTP!
Update 1: Mozilla – Firefox 11 is adding support for SPDY, the ball is rolling!
Update 2: ReadWriteWeb – Is Microsoft challenging Google on HTTP 2.0 with WebSocket?
Update 3: Jean Paoli (Microsoft) – Speed and Mobility: An Approach for HTTP 2.0 to Make Mobile Apps and the Web Faster
Update 4: Mark Nottingham (Yahoo!) – What’s next for HTTP?
Leveraging SDC beyond Google cloud with Restlet March 31, 2011Posted by Jerome Louvel in Restlet, Restlet General, SDC.
When Google announced Secure Data Connector in 2009, it was welcomed with interest as it addressed people concerns regarding public cloud security and especially integration with their private information system.
SDC solves this cloud integration dilemma without requiring to open new ports on your firewall by establishing a reverse web proxy, called SDC Agent, that connects to an SDC Tunnel Server located in Google cloud infrastructure. Once established, the secure tunnel can be used in the opposite direction, from the Google cloud to your secure intranet by Google Sites, Google App Engine applications and Google Docs spreadsheets.
While Google SDC is great if you fully live in the Google Apps ecosystem, it comes with several limitations:
- SDC Agent is available as an open source project, but not the SDC Tunnel Server part
- Google App Engine SDK doesn’t provide a way to test SDC locally without deploying your application
- Can’t be used with other cloud platforms such as Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure
- You can’t easily port a GAE application using SDC to another platform, private cloud or public cloud
As one of the Restlet Framework goals is to ensure a maximum portability across various Java based platforms such as GAE, GWT, Android and Java SE/EE those SDC challenges were compelling.
Restlet SDC connector
At the end of 2010, RunMyProcess, a long time Restlet user offering a cloud workflow solution as a cloud computing service, offered us to co-develop a Restlet SDC connector that would emulate Google SDC Tunnel Server and expose it like an HTTP client connector.
Thanks to the SDC Agent being available as open source, we could dive inside the implementation and understand the SDC protocol design which heavily relies on Google Protocol Buffer to implement a multiplexing tunnel (frames going both ways without constraint) over a TLS socket.
In the picture above, we illustrated how the Google SDC Agent software can be configured to connect to Restlet SDC Tunnel Server in the same way that you would do it for your Google Apps domain.
All the missing features are now supported by this Restlet extension which has just been released with version 2.1 M3 today! Thanks to RunMyProcess for co-developing this feature with Noelios Technologies.
You can find more technical details about this new feature in Restlet User Guide including sample usage code. Improvements are planned for a future release in order to increase the scalability of the connector by leveraging non blocking NIO/SSL connections or allowing load-balancing between a set of SDC Agent within the same intranet.
“Restlet in Action” book progressing in MEAP March 3, 2011Posted by Jerome Louvel in Ecosystem, Noelios, Restlet General.
1 comment so far
When we launched our “Restlet in Action” book project via the Manning Early Access Program (MEAP), we knew we had a long road ahead. This effort has been a source of intense work, an opportunity to step back, take the user seat and exchange in new ways with our community. For example, we have already been through two external reviews and had very regular discussions with readers in the book forum.
The book is now expected to go for printing during Summer 2011, synchronized with the release of Restlet Framework 2.1.0 version. Note that the book will cover both 2.0 and 2.1 versions of Restlet.
Recently, we have published the first two parts of the book, including the first 8 chapters in a total of 12. As it stands, the book already provides very valuable information for both Restlet newcomers and more experienced developers. In addition to presenting the technology we also provide guidance on how to design a RESTful web API, a very hot topic nowadays.
Our immediate priority is to write chapter 9 and finish the edition of chapter 10 in order to release them on MEAP in the coming weeks. Like chapter 7 on security which was contributed by Bruno Harbulot, those two new chapters covering Restlet usage with browsers, mobile devices and cloud platforms are being contributed by Thierry Templier, an experienced writer and engineer that will join our company, Noelios Technologies, next month (welcome to Thierry the Second!).
Over the past weeks, a second review of the manuscript was completed thanks to the help of about 10 external reviewers. We received very detailed feed-back, with many suggestions for improvements and corrections. As a result, we have established a thorough action plan containing about 50 action items that we intend to address. We have also addressed the easier comments on the fly by fixing the manuscript like we generally do with feed-back received via this book forum.
The next priority will be to work on this action plan and in parallel write the two other remaining chapters on “Embracing the Semantic Web” and “Looking beyond this book”. Finally, Manning will launch the printing process, including precise copy edition to improve the English prose and the general writing flow (we are not native English writers!). Thanks for your interest and support, we are almost there!
Special offer from Manning:
- Save 40% off the book price
- enter restlet40 as the promotion code when you order
- expires in 2 weeks
GSoC and Restlet integration with Equinox May 6, 2010Posted by Jerome Louvel in Ecosystem, Equinox, GSoC, OSGi, Restlet General.
1 comment so far
Two years ago, we announced that NASA launched Restlet on the OSGi orbit by developing an integration of Restlet 1.1 with OSGi, based on Equinox extension points. This effort was presented at EclipseCon 2008 & 2009, and the code was contributed to the Ensemble project under a special license as explained by Bryan Hunt in this post. Also, listening to feed-back on OSGi from Restlet community, version 2.0 of the Restlet Framework was enhanced to ensure that all its modules and dependencies were available as good OSGi bundles.
However, even though deploying Restlet components and applications in an OSGi environment is already possible and explained in the user guide, it doesn’t take advantage of the dynamic and extensible nature of OSGi. Today, Bryan Hunt pointed me to a great tutorial written by Wolfgang Werner that nicely describes the Restlet Framework, covers its usage with Eclipse’s Plugin Development Environment (PDE) and explains how to leverage Equinox’s extension points to dynamically register Restlet components, applications and resources. See the series of posts titled “Building web services on Equinox and Restlet”: part #1, part #2 and part #3.
But wait, there is more good news as a Google Summer of Code 2010 project “Restlet integration with Equinox” was proposed by the Eclipse Foundation and just accepted by Google! Thanks to Bryan Hunt for initiating the effort, to Equinox’s development team for supporting it, including Jeff McAffer, Simon Kaegi and Scott Lewis. We also received a positive review from Benjamin Cabé, an Eclipse contributor. Thanks also to all supporters including Jeff Norris and Khawaja S Shams from NASA, Rob Heittman from Solertium and Thierry Templier.
Two students proposals were submitted, one from Rajeev Sampath and another one from Samrat Dhillon. The first one was finally selected but Samrat has offered to contribute to the project. Rajeev is a Computer Science undergraduate student from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, with good Java and distributed system experience as illustrated by his participation to the Epzilla project on Complex Event Processing (CEP).
I’m very happy to see this project, initiated by the Restlet community, taking shape and wish it full success. At Noelios Technologies, we will support it as co-mentor and encourage other interested parties to join and contribute. The project web site at Google Code is here… stay tuned!
Restlet, a RESTful middleware for GWT, GAE and Android December 17, 2009Posted by Jerome Louvel in Android, Ecosystem, GAE, Google, GWT, Microsoft, REST, Restlet, Restlet General.
The Web is taking multiple shapes with the Mobile Web, Cloud Computing and RIA being hot topics recently. If you follow this blog frequently, you are certainly aware that the Restlet Framework, the first RESTful web framework for Java developers, is available in five consistent editions since version 2.0 M4. Each edition targets a special development environment:
- Google Web Toolkit (GWT) for AJAX applications deployed in desktop browsers, without any plugin required
- Google App Engine (GAE/J) for deployment on Google’s cloud computing infrastructure
- Android for deployment on compatible smartphones
- Java SE for standalone deployments in regular Java Virtual Machines
- Java EE for deployment in Servlet engines
Each edition is offering the same Restlet Framework, with restrictions and adjustments based on the target environment. For example, the GWT edition only supports the client-side usage of Restlet, while the GAE edition only provides compatible extensions and ensures that we don’t break the security sandbox or use unsupported JRE classes.
As a result, you can easily develop a unified Restlet application with a server-side deployed in GAE, a client version available for Android smartphones and another available for desktop browsers with GWT, fully leveraging the most innovative technologies available from Google for Java developers.
You might wonder what exact value does Restlet brings in the middle of those technologies? The Restlet Framework is all about REST, supporting advanced HTTP features such as content negotiation, caching and conditional processing, allowing for the same URI-addressable resource to expose various representations. Each representation renders the same information in various languages or formats such as JSON, XML or anything else that makes sense for your clients such as binary pictures.
Supporting content negotiation allows your Restlet cloud server to expose the same resources to all its clients, including an Android smartphone client, a GWT desktop client, a Flex client, a programmatic Java SE robot or a basic HTML browser. One Java API and one unified code base gets you covered in all those scenarios, even if you need to serve static files: a Restlet Application truly merges the notion of Web Site, Web App and Web Service!
So, using Restlet as a cloud server gets you much further than a regular Servlet application. Usually, you would use GWT-RPC to communicate between your GWT client and your GAE back-end, and the low-level HTTP client provided by Android to communicate with your GAE custom Servlets. Obviously, the result wouldn’t be very RESTful as GWT-RPC is introducing some strong coupling. You could use the low-level HTTP client provided by GWT as well, but then you would loose the big benefit of using Java proxies in GWT, with transparent serialization of parameters and result object.
This is where the Restlet Framework comes to rescue! For GWT, we provide both a high-level HTTP client, removing the need to manually parse and format HTTP headers thanks to its Restlet API but also a proxy generation mechanism based on GWT deferred binding very similar to GWT-RPC but truly RESTful! Migration of existing GWT-RPC code is straightforward as we also support GWT-RPC AsyncCallback interface in addition to our equivalent Result interface. For our serialization format, we reused the one of GWT-RPC, a special JSON variant, therefore it is fully featured and as robust as GWT-RPC ! In your Restlet cloud server, you just need to add our server-side GWT extension to transparently support this serialization format, thanks to content negotiation.
If you are a Google fan, you should be happily developing with the recent GWT 2.0, Android 2.0 and GAE 1.3.0 releases and the RESTful solution described above should gives you a big smile and to get started, we have written a complete tutorial, with full source code, illustrating a unified Restlet application for GAE, GWT and Android.
But even in this scenario, you wouldn’t be restricted to Google technologies, you could chose to support alternative clients such as regular HTML browsers, Flex or Silverlight clients, or any other HTTP client. On the server-side, you could take the same Restlet application and deploy it locally, or on Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure, thanks to our Restlet editions for Java SE and Java EE which can be installed on those major cloud platforms!
In the end, the Restlet Framework offers you, for free, the first comprehensive RESTful middleware for Google technologies and beyond! As a last word, I would like to thank again my friend Didier Girard, for sharing his insights that led us to this post (and a lot of work!)
Towards RESTful Web Content Management December 10, 2009Posted by Jerome Louvel in CMS, Ecosystem, REST, Restlet, Restlet General.
add a comment
The Restlet community is so diverse that it is difficult to cover all related projects and products. Sometimes, it is easier to identify trends and connections. Like for most sectors of the software industry, the Web is exerting a lot of attraction on Content Management Systems (CMS), including Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Document Management Systems (DMS).
As a result, those products typically offer a mechanism to programmatically interact with their CMS through the Web, by providing a Web Service API. Ideally, those APIs are designed RESTfully such as Nuxeo ECM which leveraged Restlet. This approach was explained in more depth in a CMSWire article covering Alfresco’s RESTful approach and mentioning Restlet has a good candidate for lighter and more RESTful Web frameworks.
Jalios JCMS, a commercial ECM product, also leverages Restlet for their RESTful OpenAPI. Another nice example of a REST API based on Restlet was recently provided by NeoDoc in their Calenco product, a CMS focusing on the collaborative edition of documents such as strategic business documents, technical documentation, user guides, quality manuals or security procedures.
While each of those REST APIs supports the special features of their related CMS, users might prefer for some scenarios to use a more generic REST API, not tightened to a particular vendor or project. This is the purpose of the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standardization effort. Version 1.0 is currently is final review stages, and seems to be gaining a lot of traction.
However, Roy T. Fielding expressed some critics on the initial draft in this blog post, pointing to its lack of RESTfulness and the fact that it was too focused on document management instead of content management as its name implies. It seems that the RESTfulness concerns were mostly addressed, but not the one of the scope of the specification . Note that Nuxeo already supports CMIS and that Jalios has planned its support as well.
Finally, there is a new trend in CMS called Web Content Management (WCM), focusing on the online edition of Web documents and Web sites in general. This family includes Wiki software like the powerful and open source XWiki which also leverages Restlet for their REST API.
Another illustration of this trend leading to more and more convergence of CMS towards the Web are major online services like Google Docs and Microsoft OfficeLive, enabling the collaborative edition of enterprise content, progressively blurring the line with regular Web content. As a final illustration of how Restlet can successfully support the development of WCM systems, I recommend you to have a look at GoGoEgo, a very promising open source RESTful WCM recently launched by Solertium.
Their solution not only provides a REST API, but is fully designed as a RESTful Web application, with an administrative front-end based on GWT and the ability to be hosted on the cloud with Google AppEngine. Solertium is also a strong supporter and contributor to the Restlet project, as illustrated in this passionate post from their CTO about friendly frameworks!
Update : Mentionned CMIS implementors. Adjusted wording regarding Roy & CMIS based on feed-back from Benoît Dissert of Jalios