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Microsoft, REST, and Robots

Microsoft has announced Robotics Studio; while this may be interesting, it is not of obvious relevance to SOA. But Mark Nottingham has discovered something interesting in the Microsoft Robotics Application Model, which is used to faciliate creation of robotics applications. To quote,

The Microsoft Robotics Studio Runtime provides a service oriented architecture which combines key aspects of traditional Web-based architecture with pieces from Web Services to provide a highly flexible and lightweight, distributed application model.

The document goes on to explain that the underlying model combines REST principles with structured data manipulation and event notification concepts from Web services. WSAP (Web Service Application Model) is described in a document (in Word format). The relationship to HTTP is explained as follows:

The WSAP operations have been designed to be a superset of the methods provided by HTTP/1.1. In particular, WSAP provides support for structured data manipulation and event notification as an integral part of the service model. Because HTTP and WSAP inherently have different protocol characteristics, WSAP is complementary to HTTP and not intended as a replacement. Rather, the close relationship between WSAP and HTTP allows WSAP services to be accessed either as regular HTTP resources or as WSAP services providing additional support for structured data manipulation and event notification.

REST, short for REpresentational State Transfer, is a term originally coined by Roy Fielding in his dissertation. It describes the principles underlying the HTTP application protocol. Proponents of the REST architectural style argue that the way Web services use HTTP as a transport protocol is a violation of Web principles and suggest a simpler, HTTP-based approach is preferable (although some, like XML co-inventor Tim Bray who has coined the moniker "Web Style" object to using the term REST to describe this simpler approach). Microsoft has recently introduced support for RESTful HTTP interactions to its Indigo/WCF platform.

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