This discussion comes at an interesting time. Just a few weeks ago I did a session on geospatial web services in my company. The actual reason that we covered this topic is that there are two interesting (and diverting) trends happening at the same time:
- The current OGC standards are finally taking off. Ever since our governement started serving their large-scale reference maps as publicly available WMS services, I see them being used by many of our customers
- At the same time, I managed finding interesting data sets using CSW services for the first time, and the fact that view and metaservices have to be provided for INSPIRE III themes by the end of the year will probably mean that the shift to using services is finally taking off.
- On the other hand RESTful GIS services have started popping up everywhere. ESRI's proposed Geoservices REST API is one, GeoREST is another one which I've enjoyed using.
12-054r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 1: Core 12-055r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 2: Catalog 12-056r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 3: Map Service 12-057r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 4: Feature Service 12-058r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 5: Geometry Service 12-059r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 6: Image Service 12-060r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 7: Geoprocessing Service 12-061r2 GeoServices REST API - Part 8: Geocoding Service
|One tool for every job? Image source|
So my proposal would be: break up the proposal. Check where new standards may be useful or where RESTFul implementations of existing services (and we already have a long list) are more appropriate. The services provided by ESRI prove that such an implementation really boosts productivity.
And actually while doing this, perhaps we should immediately consider using binary data where appropriate. I started off by saying that web services are finally being used. I did not mention WFS. This is logical. Nobody likes WFS. It is too slow. If WMS would contain an xml record for every pixels with an attribute for every color nobody would use it either. No, WMS sends a binary image. Why isn't WFS doing the same and sending vector data in a binary form?