I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about using the Atom protocol for something other than a better RSS feed, like using it as a messaging protocol. For instance, I was reading this excellent article on using REST to design a workflow on Infoq.com where they use the Atom format to describe and interact with a work queue. The example was that a order fulfilment worker would the server and would get back an Atom feed of what jobs needed to be fulfilled. Other, like James Strachan, had talked about using atom as well.
For me, the value of Atom haven’t really clicked with me yet. Its just too SOAPy for me. If you look at ATOM, the ATOM protocol, and how people are talking about using it, they’re really using it as an envelope. One of the things that attracted me to REST was that I could focus on the problem at hand and ignore bulky middleware protocols (like SOAP) and lean on HTTP as a rich application protocol.
For example, if you want to get a list of messaging, why not just multipart/mixed? Its a very simple format. Its easy to parse. You can assign specify headers to each body and use well-known headers like Content-Location if you want to replace actual content with a link. Its all much more compact. Better yet, why not just send back a comma-delimited list of URLs.
Maybe I just haven’t seen the light yet. It took me months to accept REST as a viable way of doing things. Maybe I just need somebody to yell at me about ATOM.