My favorite hobby horse was apparently given an inside track by the conference session committee: Charlie, Chris, and I got to speak in succession and tag team on REST. I started by trying to remind people how important the Web is, and how practical it would be to follow its best practices when designing geospatial services (instead of going with WS-*). Chris then used FeatureServer to demonstrate how easy it is to work using nothing but good old HTTP. Charlie introduced the Atom Publishing Protocol, a standard for manipulating collections of resources that is better suited than WFS-T for the Web. I don't know if anybody sat through all three of these talks (and kept their sanity), but we did get some good momentum going. And without any of the "REST for the mass market" nonsense that sometimes crops up in some quarters.

I missed Harris Kutagic's talk, but heard that he'd demonstrated parcel data editing in an OpenLayers/MapGuide application using just HTTP PUT instead of WFS-T. I've foreseen exactly this type of application for REST. A city's parcel information system is more like the ancient places of my Pleiades project than almost anything else in the GIS business and the usefulness of URLs for every parcel is obvious. Ownership (at least) of parcels changes independently of other parcels, and this also lends itself to use of PUT.

Several other presentations mentioned REST in passing and, like I said before, even the hardcore OGC service implementers are showing a lot of interest in and knowledge about REST. GeoRSS is already a very big deal in the geospatial business. Once people really catch up with how GData and Atompub standardize creation and modification of entries within feeds, the nature of new services is going to start changing quickly.

At the end of his talk, Charlie invited people to join our Geo-Web-REST discussion group. We're approaching 100 members, and have representatives from many of the most important open source projects, neogeography startups, vendors, search engines, and standards committees. Together, we're starting to sound out the best practices for GIS and REST.



Author: Christopher Schmidt

For the record, I sat through all three, and I was very happy with them. "Why can't we all just (web) along?", "Here's how it works", "Here's how it works with Atom + GeoRSS, the way the web is supposed to work." I think that it was a great set of sessions -- my only complaint is that so many people left immediately after the FeatureServer presentation and didn't stay for Charlie to tell them why Atom >> GML.


Author: Rob McCulley

I sat through all three, and thought they were really good. I work for a municipality, and we are slowly working towards web delivery of maps and parcel information. Very slowly. Like Sean says though, REST fits very well with parcel information.


Author: Vincent Picavet

I attended the whole REST session, and it was really interesting. Charlie's talk on atom was particularly good ! Thanks for that.