REST Method calling

For a few years now, I've been strongly encouraging usage of REST interfaces when building any sort of application. Providing a simple REST interface on top of your application means that you can provide a service and have someone else deal with creating the interfaces. This allows you to have a simple JavaScript client, a Dashboard widget, an iPhone client, and even a Command line client all operating on the same back-end.

The one problem I've found with REST interfaces is that they only allow you to operate on resources with 4 methods, GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. These methods as stated by most, allow you to Read, Create, Update, and Delete objects ONLY. In working with my applications, I often find the need to let the client perform other operations directly on the object. One possible solution to this problem is to overload the POST method with an optional "ACTION" parameter associated with it. This, however, always seemed hack-ish to me and more of something you'd see in SOAP then REST.

My proposed solution was to use HTTP to it's fullest and allow arbitrary HTTP verbs to be used on objects and collections. For example, if you had a user object at:
REST says you can do:
GET /users/moyer
To perform a "GET" (which would read the object) operation on the object, or
DELETE /users/moyer
To perform a "DELETE" operation on the object, so why not
RESETPW /users/moyer
To perform a "RESETPW" operation on the object? This turns a simple REST interface into a fully developed remote procedure calling system built directly off of the HTTP specifications.

I have tested this usage using the python httplib standard library, proxying through apache and hitting a CherryPy and Paste backend server. All of my tests suggest that the client libraries and server libraries all will support arbitrary extensions of the HTTP specification. This is the natural flow of progression to extend REST to support more methods on an individual object.


Anonymous said…
What about

DELETE /users/moyer/password ?