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InfoQ Interview: Tim Bray on Rails, REST, Java Dynamic Languages, and More

by Obie Fernandez on Oct 11, 2006 |
At the Canada on Rails conference held earlier this year, InfoQ Ruby editor Obie Fernandez recorded an interview with Tim Bray, one of the inventors of XML and current Director of Web Technologies for Sun Microsystems. Tim did not hesitate to share his frank opinions regarding Ruby and Rails, JRuby, the impact of dynamic languages on web development, static versus dynamic typing, Sun's support of the JRuby project, Atom, and WS-* versus REST approaches to systems integration.

Watch InfoQ Interview with Tim Bray (36 minutes).

Don't miss Tim's take on the "WS-DeathStar", excerpted here:
The thing about the web is that if you look at it, it has no object models and it has no APIs. It’s just protocols all the way down. Some of the protocols are loose and sloppy like HTML, and some of them are extremely rigorous like TCP/IP. But if you look at the stack there’s no APIs, there’s protocols all the way down. I think that the thing that you take away from that, is that that is the way to build heterogeneous network locations.

A few other things that we learned from the web is that simple message exchange patterns are better; I mean HTTP has one message exchange pattern; I send you a message, you send me a message and the conversation is over. And it turns out to have incredibly good characteristics and so on.

Now, the other thing that came along around the same time was XML, and it provided a convenient lingua franca to put in the messages you’re going to send back and forth. The basic take-away is “Let’s adopt the architectural pattern of the web by specifying interfaces in terms of message exchange patterns, let’s make those message exchange patterns simple, let’s try and make statelessness possible and easy because that’s on the truth path to scaling. I think that idea has legs, it’s really the only way forward. The fact is that 10 years from now there’s still going to be Rails apps here and Java apps there and they’re going to have to talk to each other. The only way to do that is by sending messages back and forth. Somebody said to standardize that. And that led us down this insane trail and the destruction of WS*.
Tim Bray managed the Oxford English Dictionary project at the University of Waterloo in 1987-1989, co-founded Open Text Corporation (Nasdaq:OTEX) in 1989, and co-invented XML in 1996-98. Currently, he serves as Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems, co-chairs the IETF "Atompub" working group, and publishes a popular weblog with thousands of subscribers.

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Great Stuff by Ashley Aitken

Great interview, thanks!

Don't miss it folks ...

Cheers,
Ashley.

Kaboom by Dorel Vaida

It's nice to see SUN has such a heterogenous environment there. On one hand, we have John Crupi who seems to evangelize the ideea of designing and exposing enterprise services basically AROUND of course WSDL and XML Schema (being small or big as he puts it :-)) ) and up one slot (on Infoq) we have Tim Bray who is basically saying that SOA is such a great bunch of bullshit and "... XML schema and WSDL, which are two of the ugliest, most broken and irritating specifications in the history of the universe". That's refreshing. I mean you just have to follow both of the presentations and you don't need anyone to tell you what you need to do. You can sooo easily make your choice. Which's yours ? :-D

Re: Kaboom by Dorel Vaida

More on this here

Interesting but agonizing to watch by Faui Gerzigerk

I finally managed to watch this to the end but it was really painful because the video stream was interrupted about once every 5 seconds ... buffering ... a a a a ... buffering. I'm on a rather thick pipe so I don't know why this has been so bad.

I have two suggestions for infoq: Please provide interviews as an audio stream. This is about what people say, so there's little use in watching it on video. The second thing is that Flash doesn't seem to be very good at video streaming. I never had any buffering problems with Real or Windows Media...

Re: Interesting but agonizing to watch by Jakub Gawlikowski

I agree with Faui: too much pain involved with buffering. I loved the video and found it very informative. In fact, the whole site is awesome, but I will not watch videos very often if I have to take this buffering pain. Floyd, please provide us some downloadable version of the files. If it has to be Flash, I beg you, give us a link to an FLV file in one piece!

Thanks in advance!

WS-death star and SGML by Jakub Gawlikowski

I like Tim's no-nonsense attitude, but I think that he is inconsistent in one point: he says that XML was the subset of SGML that made sense. So, would have XML been developed if not for the (initially) unproductive work on SGML? Isn't it the same for WS? I mean maybe people are just trying to find the right way in the dark, and we just have to wait until it becomes clear what part of what they achieved needs to be taken as a useful subset.

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