Skip to main content

Web: REST Verbs

I find it curious that REST enthusiasts insist on viewing the world through the five verbs GET, HEAD, PUT, POST, and DELETE. It reminds me of a story:

Back in the early '80s, I worked for DARPA. During the height of the Cold War, we were really worried about being attacked by Russia. My team was charged with designing a RESTful interface to a nuclear launch site; as far as technology goes, we were way ahead of our time.

Anyway, I wanted the interface to be "PUT /bomb". However, my co-worker insisted that it should be "DELETE /russia". One of my other buddies suggested that we compromise on something more mainstream like "POST /russia/bomb".

Finally, my boss put an end to the whole fiasco. He argued that any strike against the USSR would necessarily be in retaliation to an attack from them. Hence, he suggested that it be "GET /even", so that's what we went with.

You have to understand, back then, GETs with side effects weren't yet considered harmful.


Brandon L. Golm said…
Thank you for contracting 1980s correctly.
jjinux said…
Hahaha ;)
Unknown said…
Excellent - morbid, but excellent! ;)
Kevin Dangoor said…
I think that REST would be much better if it had adverbs.

GET /secret_info QUIETLY

(retrieve the URL without logging)


(remove everything recursively -- no undo!)

I just don't see how people can view REST as a complete, useful protocol.

Anonymous said…
"I think that REST would be much better if it had adverbs."

This made me laugh. :-)
jjinux said…
Haha, Kevin, exactly. In between the awful bloat of SOAP and the strangely religious advocates of REST, the rest of us are just trying to get our jobs done.
Anonymous said…
That's funny, but FWIW, I think you miss the point entirely. You can be RESTful just sticking to GET/POST which is what most of the web does. The question is why your design chooses to reject PUT/DELETE when they might be appropriate. You may very well have good reason, but I don't know because you don't say. I don't think I can do a better job than this blog post:

Beyond that, *shrug*. 90% of these REST/WS-* debates seem to consist of uninformed participants on both sides, all pretending otherwise. Just like politics.
jjinux said…
> That's funny, but FWIW, I think you miss the point entirely.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I was railing against how religious the book "Restful Web Services" is. You say, "You can be RESTful just sticking to GET/POST which is what most of the web does", but the book seems to reject that stance, at least for as far as I've read it.
jjinux said…

Thanks for the link. I was aware of 90% of that content when I wrote the post, which is to say, my joke stands ;)
Venkat said…
el-oh-el! This is hilarious.

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo

Haskell or Erlang?

I've coded in both Erlang and Haskell. Erlang is practical, efficient, and useful. It's got a wonderful niche in the distributed world, and it has some real success stories such as CouchDB and Haskell is elegant and beautiful. It's been successful in various programming language competitions. I have some experience in both, but I'm thinking it's time to really commit to learning one of them on a professional level. They both have good books out now, and it's probably time I read one of those books cover to cover. My question is which? Back in 2000, Perl had established a real niche for systems administration, CGI, and text processing. The syntax wasn't exactly beautiful (unless you're into that sort of thing), but it was popular and mature. Python hadn't really become popular, nor did it really have a strong niche (at least as far as I could see). I went with Python because of its elegance, but since then, I've coded both p