Why web services versioning is important

Freshness Warning
This article is over 11 years old. It's possible that the information you read below isn't current.

Two words: client synchronization.

Talking to Bill Lazar, he suggested that my web serrvices versioning problems are similar to his problems with Ruby on Rails. He’s got some code running on a pre-1.0 RoR installation. With 1.0, several important constructs changed in the framework, and upgrading to 1.0 would break his application. As we chatted through this, we hit upon the key difference. Although RoR released 1.0, there’s nothing forcing him to actually use it. He can keep using 0.9 (or whatever version he has) as long as he wants. He can try his code on a 1.0 system elsewhere, test it, adjust it, and prepare it for use. Then when he’s ready, he can upgrade his code and his RoR installation at the same time. The version negotiation between the client and server can be planned and synchronized.

For a data structure or service delivered over the public web to a disparate set of clients, this isn’t possible. I cannont time the upgrade of the server to co-incide with an upgrade of the client. In many cases, I don’t even know who the client is. I certainly don’t control them. And even if I knew them all, synchronizing an upgrade would require that I coordinate the upgrade schedules of multiple clients, maintained by multiple people, with varying degrees of interest and need.

The essential component in Bill’s Rails upgrade is a time shift. The RoR framework was released, but Bill can choose when it applies to him by shifting the upgrade to a time that suits him. People that need it now, or are just starting out with Rails can get the 1.0 version immedately. Everyone else can use whatever version they want. The Rails team doesn’t need to maintain old versions of the application. It’s acceptable to say that bugs in the app are fixed in the later versions only and if you have a problem that needs fixing, you should accelerate your upgrade schedule.

With a web service, I can time shift the upgrade path by continuing to supply older versions of the data format. There’s no maintenance involved. The format sits there, and anyone connecting to it can use it. If someone has a problem or needs some new data, they can get it by moving to the newest version. Any new uses of the service start out with the latest version.


Your comments:

Text only, no HTML. URLs will automatically be converted to links. Your email address is required, but it will not be displayed on the site.

Name:

Not your company or your SEO link. Comments without a real name will be deleted as spam.

Email: (not displayed)

If you don't feel comfortable giving me your real email address, don't expect me to feel comfortable publishing your comment.

Website (optional):

Follow me on Twitter

Best Of

  • How not to apply for a job Applying for a job isn't that hard, but it does take some minimal effort and common sense.
  • Simplified Form Errors One of the most frustrating experiences on the Web is filling out forms. When mistakes are made, the user is often left guessing what they need to correct. We've taken an approach that shows the user in no uncertain terms what needs to be fixed.
  • The best of 2006 I wrote a lot of drivel in 2006. Here's the things that are less crappy than the rest.
  • Rounded corners in CSS There lots of ways to create rounded corners with CSS, but they always require lots of complex HTML and CSS. This is simpler.
  • Debunking predictions Read/Write Web's authors have some goofy predictions.
  • More of the best »

Recently Read

Get More

Subscribe | Archives

11

Recently

Physical camera shutter for Cisco Spark Board (Jul 6)
A 3d printable design for a camera shutter for a Cisco Spark Board
My Travel Coffee Setup (Jan 20)
What my travel coffee brewing setup looks like, and how you can build your own for under $100.
Turkey Legs (May 30)
Product naming gone awry.
Speaking for Geeks: Your Slides (Dec 17)
Tips and tricks for creating great slides.
Speaking for Geeks: Writing Your Talk (Dec 14)
Don’t wait until the night before the talk to write it. Crazy, I know.
Speaking for Geeks: Tell a Story (Dec 13)
Telling a story keeps your presentation focused, keeps your audience interested, and makes it easier for you to remember your talk.
Speaking for Geeks: Where to speak (Dec 11)
You've got a great idea for a talk. How do you find conferences to submit it to?
Speaking for Geeks: Getting your session accepted (Dec 10)
Your conference speaking submissions are not getting accepted because they're bad. Here's how to make them better.

Subscribe to this site's feed.

Elsewhere

Tropo
Voice and communications platforms, including Tropo and Phono. Work.
SacStarts
The Sacramento technology startup community.
Pinewood Freak
Pinewood Derby tips and tricks

Contact

Adam Kalsey

Mobile: 916.600.2497

Email: adam AT kalsey.com

AIM or Skype: akalsey

Resume

PGP Key

©1999-2017 Adam Kalsey.
Content management by Movable Type.