2009-10-03

Metaprotocol Taxonomy

Because each application has different communication requirements, there is no simple "best" metaprotocol. Still, some general conclusions are possible. Object-oriented communication, i.e. sending an object model from one machine to another, needs an object-oriented specification (and API where appropriate). The typed metaprotocols (Hessian, RMI, CORBA, JSON) best fit this requirement since they are designed around language types. The syntactic metaprotocols (SOAP, POX) are better suited for document-based applications, i.e. applications which retrieve data through syntactic queries like XPath or XQuery.

The common communication patterns: REST, RPC, Messaging and Streaming also influence the choice of metaprotocol. Since RPC is a typed and API-based pattern, the typed metaprotocols fit better. Messaging applications can use the syntactic metaprotocols if they are document or query based, and can use the typed metaprotocols if they are object model based. Like Messaging, REST can use either typed or syntactic metaprotocols, depending on the applications. Streaming applications like AJAX/Comet fit dynamic typed protocols best.
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