Friday, February 25, 2005

Mobile Services - A broader view of the webservices phenomenon

In one of my prior posts, I talked primarily on REST and what I
percieved where its strong points, but i made some remarks in passing,
which I want to concentrate on now.

The point I'm referring to was the Anology i drew between TCP/UDP and
Webservices/(Email,SMS) services. This is to me a very important analogy
on the Application Layer. I think that everyone is getting carried away
with just the Webservices part of it, which ofcourse is very important,
but then, we seem to be missing the apparent fact that this is just one
part of a larger equation. I'll call this larger equation 'Mobile Services'

Take this blogging service for instance. I prefer to use the Email
service to post my blog. I know i could write a small python script to
give me commandline or anytype of interface i wanted, with,
but posting is not a time critical application, so i want to just type
up a mail, hit send and move on to something else then probably 5 or 10
mins latter (actually, its waaaaaay much faster), i get a mail
notification that says that my blog has been published.

Lets take this a step further, imagine i have this Home Control System
i've written, and its running on my server in the house. I travel to
Timbuktu (is that the end of the earth? :) ), and i decide to send it a
programming for the next weekend, when i'll be comming back. This
programming is not in need of immidiet response, since it really to be
queued for latter, there is really no need to use a Webservice to do
this. I could just type up an email, with the programming, and send it
to myhcs@myhouse.bleh. Latter in the day, when the programming is
accepted, my home control system can send me a mail to let me know that
the programming has been queued, or it failed or something.

If i want to do a quick override, I will just have to use a WebService
anyway, but for other kinds of interaction, WebService may be overkill.
also, i could use SMS.

Why am i bringing all these up? Well, because i'm not sure anyone out
there is tackling this problem space as a viable problem space. There
are kinks to iron out, like Authentication, when using Email and SMS,
(SMS Especially), general Standardisation, and the awareness that this
is actually a path that can be taken to solve real problems.

I think 'Mobile Services' are the future, and even tho WebServices is
the preferred method for lots of interaction, non-connection-oriented
protocols like EMail and SMS are in existence, and are being used all
the time. A mailing list is a typical example of a real life Mobile
Service driven my Email. Google has a Mobile Service driven my SMS as well.

In conclusion, folks are using 'Mobile Services' in an informal manner.
I think we should formalize them, and we'll suddenly be able to see
clearer into the whole mix, and I'm sure even WebServices will benefit
from this broader formalization.

As for me, Email remains my favourite interface to ''.

[epilogue: Essien finished typing up his blog, then hit Send in
Thunderbird, with a little smile on his face, knowing it was just a
matter of time before his new blog post hit the World Wide Web, and
Mobile Services became a new Buzz Word]


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