Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Video: What is RESTful? (2.0.0)

Roughly two years ago, the Commerce Engineering Team set out to deliver native mobile phone applications for iOS and Android that offered the same rich user experience that hundreds of thousands of customers enjoy within our web applications each day. We started with a couple of UI/UX mockups, a firm knowledge that we needed to develop an API, and a strong desire to make that API RESTful. A large, dedicated team spent 18 months of their lives learning and growing to achieve a soft launch of the applications in May of 2015 in the Google Play Store and iTunes. We believe a project of such magnitude must, beyond its primary goals, create useful and reusable assets to be considered a success. By that definition, this project was a huge success. We have a few libraries we plan to open source, a bunch of best practices to document and present, and a ton of knowledge and opinions to share with the development community.

Other than the applications themselves, the most valuable assets developed during the project have been our opinions on what defines a RESTful architecture. Even months into the project, we found ourselves in long debates that led to redefining our views of RESTful architecture. Each of these cycles triggered new breakthroughs and pitfalls in our implementation. Even now, months after the launch, we still find ourselves re-evaluating past decisions and making significant changes in our implementation to align with the newest visions. The pieces of that newest vision were collected together into a presentation named "What Is RESTful?" that was used multiple times internally to achieve a common base understanding from which the more interesting conversations around implementation grew. Even this presentation has gone under multiple revisions and has recently achieved the SemVer status of 2.0.0. This 2.0.0 version was recently presented at the Fall 2015 Tech Talk and is now available for online viewing. We expect to use this presentation in future posts and presentations as a launching point to dive deep into the finer aspects of our implementation and the software technology that grew from our vision. It is certain that we have not gotten everything right, and we encourage feedback, both constructive and critical, in order to develop the 3.0.0 version of this vision.