David Chapelle writes that
To anybody who’s paying attention and who’s not a hopeless partisan, the war between REST and WS-* is over. The war ended in a truce rather than crushing victory for one side–it’s Korea, not World War II. The now-obvious truth is that both technologies have value, and both will be used going forward.
That’s a nice analogy. Take it one step further though. WS-* is North Korea and REST is South Korea. While REST will go on to become an economic powerhouse with steadily increasing standards of living for all its citizens, WS-* is doomed to sixty+ years of starvation, poverty, tyranny, and defections until it eventually collapses from its own fundamental inadequacies and is absorbed into the more sensible policies of its neighbor to the South.
The analogy isn’t as silly as it sounds either. North Korean/Soviet style “communism” fails because it believes massive central planning works better than the individual decisions of millions of economic actors. WS-* fails because it believes massive central planning works better than the individual decisions of millions of web sites. It’s no coincidence that the WS-* community constantly churns out volume after volume of specification and one tool after another. The WS-* community really believes that developers are too stupid to be allowed to manage themselves. Developers have to be told what to do and kept from getting their grubby little hands all over the network protocols because they can’t be trusted to make the right choices.
By contrast you don’t see a lot of complicated REST frameworks or specifications. You could read all the relevant REST specifications in a slow afternoon (mostly the HTTP spec and a couple of subsidiary RFCs, plus XML and Namespaces in XML. Maybe Atom syntax and Atom-pub too if you feel ambitious.). REST/HTTP sets up a simple economic system based on a few clear rules, and then pretty much gets out of the way to let people do their own thing. It doesn’t even get too upset when people break the rules, and start tunneling everything through POST or deleting items with GET. The main people harmed by such bad decisions will be the sites themselves, and they will be dealt with by the RESTful market.