Visual modeling of RESTful conversations with RESTalk

TitleVisual modeling of RESTful conversations with RESTalk
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAna Ivanchikj, Cesare Pautasso, and Silvia Schreier
JournalJournal of Software & Systems Modeling
KeywordsRESTalk, RESTful conversation

The cost savings introduced by Web services through code re-use and integration opportunities have motivated many businesses to develop Web APIs, with ever increasing numbers opting for the REST architectural style. RESTful Web APIs are decomposed in multiple resources, which the client can manipulate through HTTP interactions with well defined semantics. Getting the resource in the desired state might require multiple client-server interactions, what we define as a RESTful conversation. RESTful conversations are dynamically guided by hypermedia controls, such as links. Thus, when deciding whether and how to use a given RESTful service, the client might not be aware of all the interactions which are necessary to achieve its goal. This is because existing documentation of RESTful APIs describe the static structure of the interface, exposing low-level HTTP details, while little attention has been given to conceptual, high-level, modeling of the dynamics of RESTful conversations. Low-level HTTP details can be abstracted from during the design phase of the API, or when deciding which API to use. We argue that, in these situations, visual models of the required client-server interactions might increase developers' efficiency and facilitate their understanding. Thus, to capture all possible interaction sequences in a given RESTful conversation, we propose RESTalk, an extension to the BPMN Choreography diagrams to render them more concise and yet sufficiently expressive in the specific REST domain. We also report on the results obtained from an exploratory survey we have conducted to assess the maturity of the field for a domain specific language, and to obtain feedback for future improvements of RESTalk.

Citation Keyrestalk:2016:jssm
Refereed DesignationRefereed

Best Paper Award (presented at MODELS 2016)