[Openstack] Crazy Idea for API Formats

Sandy Walsh sandy.walsh at rackspace.com
Sat Mar 5 06:55:05 UTC 2011

Interesting ... do I get back an instance object or just a key/value dict?

Is the attraction not having complex/multi-package client libraries to import?

If the client was: obvious to download, easy to install/update and had a full object model ... would that be better?


From:  Michael Mayo [mike at openstack.org]
Subject: [Openstack] Crazy Idea for API Formats

All this talk about auth and making the API easy for developers to use got me thinking.

The two most popular formats for APIs are XML and JSON.

XML is language neutral and sort of painful to read by a human.  And writing an XML parser sucks.  It's not hard, but it's time consuming and annoying.

JSON is easier to read and easier to parse, so it is becoming the most popular choice.  But the really cool feature of JSON is that if you're consuming the API in Javascript, you don't have to parse at all because JSON is the native object format for Javascript.

So... how about we offer more native formats for other languages?  For Java developers, offer raw binary that represents a Serializable when they call something like GET /servers.java.  Zero parsing for Java developers.

For Objective-C, GET /servers.cocoa returns XML in the NSPropertyList XML format.  Again, zero parsing.

If Python has object serialization you could do it too.  That would probably be the easiest to code.

What do you think?

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