A conversation with Roy Fielding about HTTP, REST, WebDAV, JSR 170, and Waka

Roy Fielding, the primary architect of HTTP and a co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation, joins me for today's podcast. We talked about the past, present, and future of web architectural style, and about how REST principles carry over to the work Roy has done as chief scientist with Day Software on the Java content-management standards JSR 170 and JSR 283.

At one point, in response to a question about making web services efficient enough for interprocess communication, Roy surprised me by mentioning a project called Waka, which is not only a Maori word for canoe, but also an idea for a new transfer protocol. It was first sketched in 2002, and still exists largely in Roy's head, he says, though you'll find a few mentions of it around the web.

Waka would be a binary token-based protocol that could work for both local and long-distance communication. It would also interleave data and metadata in a series of more-or-less independent frames. Given the advantages of MP3, which works that way, and the disadvantages of other media formats that don't, that sounds like a really useful feature.

Waka may sound a bit far-fetched, perhaps, but as Mark Nottingham points out, when it comes to the technical and social engineering skills that would be required to supplant HTTP, there's nobody more qualified than Roy Fielding.

Update: When I did a sound check on this podcast in my car this weekend, I realized that although the meters had looked good, my voice was too loud relative to Roy's. So I've uploaded a rebalanced version.

In other podcast-related news, Chris Gemignani -- who appeared in this episode -- has been using the newly-available transcripts to answer some questions:

Am I funnier than Jon's average guest? Did Jon Udell talk more than usual during our conversation? Answers: I'm slightly funnier than the average guest (4 laughs during our conversation), but nowhere near as funny as Gary McGraw (19 laughs). Yes, Jon did have a lot to say during our conversation about data visualization -- he spoke about 1/3 of the words, which is higher than his average.
See his blog for a nice example of lightweight data visualization in plain HTML.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/08/25.html#a1514