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Glossary 

ReST - HATEOAS Primer

The Polygene™ ReST Client implements HATEOAS (Hypermedia As The Engine Of Application State) to the full extent intended by Roy Fielding. The ReST Client Library enables the creation of HATEOAS applications that are NOT using the URL space, and it is NOT about doing RPC calls over HTTP using a common exchange format (like JSON).

The ReST Server Library is a corresponding library for creating usecase-driven ReST servers, and with that the corresponding client becomes very thin, as all business rules remain on the server where they belong.

The main point is to support exposing REST resources that focus on use cases and hypermedia.

On the client, we have been thinking a lot about what Roy wrote in his thesis, which boils down to "client makes GET request, based on relation of link invoked and response (headers+hypermedia) make a decision, and then follow links or invoke forms to perform state transitions". It’s a state machine. This is different from your average REST client today in that this model explicitly says that you need to do a GET first (otherwise you have nothing to react to), that the "rel" of the link you followed is important (otherwise context is unknown), and that the client should not make assumptions about what comes back (otherwise you cannot deal with exceptions, on system and application level).

The current REST client approach which is imperative:

result = client.get(somelink)

does not allow for any of the above. Instead, the client code should first register handlers for what to do in various circumstances, and then simply perform one operation: "refresh". This will trigger the first GET to the bookmarked URL, and after that the handlers will do all the work, based on the result. A handler may continue the work by invoking new requests, or it may abort. "refresh" does not return any value, and usually does not throw any exceptions.

Example:

crc.onResource( new ResultHandler<Resource>()
{
    @Override
    public HandlerCommand handleResult( Resource result, ContextResourceClient client )
    {
        // This may throw IAE if no link with relation
        // "querywithoutvalue" is found in the Resource
        return query( "querywithoutvalue", null );
    }
} ).
onQuery( "querywithoutvalue", new ResultHandler<TestResult>()
{
    @Override
    public HandlerCommand handleResult( TestResult result, ContextResourceClient client )
    {
        Assert.assertThat(result.xyz().get(), CoreMatchers.equalTo("bar"));
        return null;
    }
} );

crc.start();

The client first builds up the set of handlers, and describe what they should react to. The client then invokes "refresh" which will trigger the first GET on the bookmark URL. This will return a representation of that context as a Resource, and the handler for that is invoked. This then invokes the link with relation "querywithoutvalue" with no input (no request parameters needed). The result of that is then handled by another handler, and the invocation of "refresh" then returns successfully. Note that the first handler may not directly handle the "result" of client.query("querywithoutvalue, null) as it cannot be assumed what happens next. All you know is that you are following a link.

On crc (ContextResourceClient) it is also possible to registers handlers that are always applied, such as error handlers. Here is the setup of crc:

// Create Restlet client and bookmark Reference
    Client client = new Client( Protocol.HTTP );
    Reference ref = new Reference( "http://localhost:8888/" );
    ContextResourceClientFactory contextResourceClientFactory = module.newObject( ContextResourceClientFactory.class, client, new NullResponseHandler() );
    contextResourceClientFactory.setAcceptedMediaTypes( MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON );

// Handle logins
    contextResourceClientFactory.setErrorHandler( new ErrorHandler().onError( ErrorHandler.AUTHENTICATION_REQUIRED, new ResponseHandler()
    {
        // Only try to login once
        boolean tried = false;

        @Override
        public HandlerCommand handleResponse( Response response, ContextResourceClient client )
        {
            // If we have already tried to login, fail!
            if (tried)
                throw new ResourceException( response.getStatus() );

            tried = true;
            client.getContextResourceClientFactory().getInfo().setUser( new User("rickard", "secret") );

            // Try again
            return refresh();
        }
    } ).onError( ErrorHandler.RECOVERABLE_ERROR, new ResponseHandler()
    {
        @Override
        public HandlerCommand handleResponse( Response response, ContextResourceClient client )
        {
            // Try to restart this scenario
            return refresh();
        }
    } ) );

    crc = contextResourceClientFactory.newClient( ref );

These general handlers cover what to do for login and error handling, for example. In the traditional REST client this is not as easy to do, as you are more or less assuming a "happy path" all the time. In the above scenario there could be any number of steps between doing "refresh" and getting to the meat of the use case, such as doing a signup for the website, login, redirects to other servers, error handling and retries, etc. It becomes possible to blend general application and error handling logic with use case specific handlers.

That’s basically it. This is where I want to go with support for REST, as a way to truly leverage the REST ideas and make it very easy to do REST applications and clients based on Polygene, by keeping the application logic on the server. In the long run there would also be a JavaScript version of the client, with the same characteristics, so that you can easily build a jQuery UI for Polygene™ REST apps.