16 August 2006

Sam Ruby comments on Web Oriented Architecture (WOA) and Resource Oriented Architecture (ROA), claiming them both excellent. But he feels the community is forgetting about the Web's fundemental building block...the hyperlink.

The link is the glue that holds the web together. It is what differentiates the web from protocols like ftp that merely serve as access methods for documents.The very notion of a link has become practically inexpressible and virtually unthinkable in the vernacular of SOA.

Sam Ruby: WOA vs ROA

For the last decade or so, HTML, the primary manifestation of the Web, has used links primarily for human consumptioin and manipulation. Google managed to do something useful by deriving meaning out of the network of links. However, when a web page author thinks of a hyperlink, the anchor tag:

<a href="link_useful_to_computer">Useful text to human</a>

However, developments, such as the Atom Publishing Protocol, are making use of links oriented to machines by providing semantics and meaning to links:

<link href="http://.." title="Next 20 Entries" type="application/x.atom+xml" rel="next" />

In the traditional anchor tag, enough information is provided for a human to make a decision and the machine to act as an agent in behalf of the human. With the second example, an XML element from Atom's Publishing Protocol schema, provides meaning around the link, including the mimetype and the relationship.

We need to continue to work in the direction of providing hyperlinks for the machine.