The yearly World Wide Web conferences are highlights for my research: every time again, the world’s most fascinating people meet to discuss novel ideas. This year’s edition moved to Seoul, and I happily represented Ghent University for the third time, together with my colleagues. In addition to hosting the WS‑REST2014 workshop, I presented Linked Data Fragments at LDOW2014. The combination of these workshops represents for me what is important to move the Web forward: flexible data and API access for automated clients.
The WWW conference series have so far been very rewarding for me, and Seoul was no exception to this. I had fruitful conversations with many of the attendees, and picked up several ideas for the months to come. Content-wise, I get the most inspiration out of the workshops that accompany the conference. The discussions that happen there are in my opinion the most interesting, even though there is unquestionably great research in the main tracks as well.
The drawback of many workshops is that you can only pick two of your favourite ones to attend. Fortunately, LDOW2014 and WS-REST2014 were scheduled on different days this year, so I could attend both.
The WS-REST workshop, or “International Workshop on Web APIs and RESTful Design” as we rechristened it this year, has special meaning to me. Three years ago, at the WWW conference in Hyderabad, I arrived by accident at the 2011 edition of the workshop. I had nothing planned for the day and I was curious to see how the state of giving things pretty URLs was advancing. (I didn’t actually know anything about REST back then.) My PhD research was just starting and honestly, I was out of inspiration at the time. A presentation by Thomas Steiner on the hypermedia constraint caught my attention—
You can imagine my surprise when Erik Wilde asked me to take over WS-REST organizational duties from him, Cesare and Rosa. I didn’t have to think for long… ;-) And so I organized WS-REST 2014 together with Tom and Carlos. It was a though challenge, as the 2013 edition of the workshop saw a declining number of people. However, by widening the scope to include everything about APIs, and focusing on new challenges such as client design, we gathered an exciting line-up and crowd.
My personal highlights of the day include the keynote by Sam Goto, a very honest story about how he (and Google) learned about hypermedia APIs and found ways to describe them in Schema.org. Then came a wonderfully authentic Mike Amundsen performance, who managed to capture the essence of hypermedia clients with a phrase from the Pixar dog Dug: “I have just met you and I love you”. Truer words have seldom been spoken. I was also very excited to see Pete Gamache’s presentation on a very pragmatic generic hypermedia client. His approach for capturing hypermedia in a Ruby DSL is particularly elegant. I’d be interested to see how that grows, and I think there would be a good match with Hydra.
The audience seemed to have a great time, and so did we! A broad smile on the face of Cesare, the original workshop’s co-founder, seemed to indicate his blessing for another edition organized by us :-) Here are challenges for next year.
The Web’s 25th birthday was of course a theme at the WWW2014 conference. Tim Berners-Lee cut the Web’s birthday cake, and there were several ongoing discussions on which directions the future Web could go. I personally believe that scalable and flexible access to data & APIs are crucial for the Web to move forward. This is why I’ll be continuing research on semantic hypermedia, and if all goes well, you’ll see more about that at WWW2015 :-D