Exploring Hypermedia with Mike Amundsen

The Web Can Teach the Enterprise

The Web’s flexibility has helped it to survive and thrive, pushing well beyond the browser-based universe where it first showed its promise. While I’ve spent most of my time working with the HTML/CSS/JavaScript side, the HTTP side of the original HTML+HTTP combination that built the Web is perhaps even more flexible.

I enjoyed talking with Mike Amundsen, Principal API Architect at Layer 7 Technologies, who has spent much of his recent career encouraging enterprise customers to shift toward web architectures. While REST has emerged over the past decade to eclipse SOAP-based “web services”, Amundsen has eagerly promoted the next step beyond the simple CRUD-based model of early REST work: hypermedia.

Our conversation ranged from the history and foundations of REST through the many ways to integrate that work with existing enterprise practice to a glimpse at what the future might hold for frameworks, design, and architecture.

  • REST as enterprise architectures principles applied to hypermedia (at 1:57)
  • Transitioning from RPC-based models to hypermedia, by including additional information in response. (at 3:00)
  • The value of opinionated message formats and eventual integration into opinionated frameworks. (at 5:51)
  • Shifting from shared understandings of object models to messages. (at 8:50)
  • “Enough coupling, but not too much” to allow mixing of technologies. (at 11:15)
  • Human negotiation, HTTP negotiation, and responsive web design (at 14:20)
  • Focusing on developer experience with APIs (at 16:30)
  • Documentation as profile of how API works – can be made (more) machine-readable (at 17:50 )
  • Moving from a focus on resources to a focus on actions. (at 20:10)
  • The “semantic challenge” – beyond CRUD and media types as snowflakes. (at 21:09)
  • Hypermedia still works in a world where the HTTP foundation is changing. (at 24:02)

Want more of Mike? He’ll be speaking at the Fluent conference at the end of this month. You can also read his A Matter of Semantics, or read his Building Hypermedia APIs with HTML5 and Node.

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