This PDF will show you how your small business or enterprise can publish its APIs (application programming interface) to a developer community just like the behemoths of the Internet--Google, Yahoo!, eBay, and Amazon.
These giants already offer their APIs to other programmers and allow for add-on services and mash-ups to develop from them--but until recently, the capability for most enterprises to do the same was limited by a myriad of competing standards and a lack of easy-to-use tools to accomplish the task.
Ruby on Rails levels the playing field for companies by simplifying the process of building web services and documenting APIs. Now with Rails, enterprise-quality tools are available for all developers.
In this document, we'll look at how Ruby on Rails makes building web service clients and servers simple and fun. Along the way, we'll give working examples and code details so you can see just how everything works.
Kevin Marshall is a software developer at heart. He is a consultant toa number of companies and currently runs 50+ sites of his own--many of which are now happily running with Ruby on Rails, including the popular Draftwizard.com. Kevin is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. When he's not deep into coding, building content, or talking football, he's generally off playing with his son. To learn more about what he's up to right now you can visit his company site http://www.falicon.com or just drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thought this article was very well written, although the last part was not so well structured. However, I thought the idea of providing real-world examples of each type of WS access was smart and well done.
Small quibbles - one of the example apps didn't work as it was supposed to, apparently because of a change in Rails. However, Kevin was very helpful in working with me to find the problem and suggest workarounds, so kudos to him.
I also wish there was more information on setting up larger data structures. Right now I get that it's possible, but it still seems intimidating and error prone.
However, those are only minor detractions from an otherwise excellent writeup!
Quoted from an O'Reilly email to me on Thu Jun 1 12:10:59 2006.
"Web Services on Rails by Kevin Marshall
In recent years, web services have become increasingly useful to smaller web site developers. Thanks to standards like SOAP and XML-RPC as well as frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, developers can easily create web service clients and servers with fewer errors. This guide looks at how Ruby on Rails makes building web service clients and servers simple and fun, with plenty of working examples and code details so you can see just how everything works. ISBN: 0-596-52796-9, 32 pages, $9.99 US, $12.99 CA http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/websor/"
Everything is true except "plenty of working examples". I need more. There were only 48 examples of one to many lines of code in 29 pages before the summary. The number and quality of the working examples is fine, just not plenty. They are based on the three architectures most used today: REST, SOAP, and XML-RPC. The examples work as the author advertises. The examples cover a variety of web service circumstances and are not one web service developed over the course of the book.
Some of the topics covered include:
Building clients, building servers, web services basics, web services signatures, WSDL files, and web service architectures. They are clearly spelled out, if briefly.
I thought the discriminations made between :expects and :returns; ActiveRecord::Base and ActionWebService::Struct types; :direct and :layered and :delegated were all straightforward and well defined without going overboard.
The 30+ pages were easy to read and understand. I read it in one evening. The book is for someone a little more advanced than a beginner. If you do not know how to get the software, Ruby on Rails, you need to figure that out before you get to this book.
The book is in .pdf format. I like that feature. You can buy this online through the O'Reilly shopping cart and then download it.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, with that fifth star waiting for another 48 examples. I recommend this book for those who have the software, launched it a few times, and want a successful implementation of some useful examples.
Frederick J Eccher Jr June 8, 2006
M.S. Management of Information Systems
President, Board of Directors, Saint Louis Visual Basic Users Group