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JSON, HTTP and data links

In late 2011, Mark Nottingham, whom I very much admire on a personal and professional level, posted ‘Linking in JSON‘ which triggered quite some discussion (see the comments there).

Back then already I sensed that the community at large is ready for the next aspect of the Web. A scalable, machine-targeted way to realise a global dataspace. And it’s happening as we speak.

Take JSON and HTTP (some use REST for marketing purposes) and add the capability of following (typed) links that lead you to more data (context, definitions, related stuff, whatever).

And here are the three current contenders in this space (in the order of stage appearance) – Microsoft’s OData JSON Format, The Object Network: Linking up our APIs, and – as I learned from Charl van Niekerk on #whatwg IRC channel tonite – A Convention for HTTP Access to JSON Resources.

What they all have in common is that they define ways to read, create, update and delete data objects, in the Web, based on JSON, using HTTP.


OData: JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Format

OData: JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Format

Totally-objective-and-unbiased-verdict: around for some years now, great community, backed by big bucks, heavy-weight (they squeezed friggin APP into it), rather RESTful and becoming more and more a shadow Semantic Web.

The Object Network

The Object Network: Linking up our APIs

The Object Network: Linking up our APIs

Totally-objective-and-unbiased-verdict: too early to tell, really. Seems like a one-man-show, nice idea in theory, time will tell uptake. Many things, incl. link semantic seem half-baked and unclear. Good motivation and marketing but little ‘apps’ or demos to be of any interest.

A Convention for HTTP Access to JSON Resources

Internet Draft - A Convention for HTTP Access to JSON Resources

Internet Draft - A Convention for HTTP Access to JSON Resources

Totally-objective-and-unbiased-verdict: just learned about it, but seems to be influenced by CouchDB developments and experiences which means it can’t be that bad, can it? 🙂 Yeah, I guess I’ll have a closer look at this one.




Now, which one is your favorite? Did I forget any? Before you shout out JSON-LD or the likes now … hold your breath – my #1 requirement is that it does the Full Monty: I want to be able to CRUD, to follow my nose through the data and all this over HTTP. Anyone?


About mhausenblas

Distributed Jester, Mesosphere


9 thoughts on “JSON, HTTP and data links

  1. I’d also add in HAL+json (http://stateless.co/hal_specification.html#json) and Collection+JSON (http://amundsen.com/media-types/collection/format/) as contenders in this JSON-linking space.

    Posted by Mike Amundsen (@mamund) | 2012-02-05, 21:50
    • Thanks for your comment, Mike! Always a please to hear from you 🙂

      Now, as for HAL, I was aware of it but didn’t know it is also defined for updates. Collection+JSON is totally new to me, thanks a million for pointing this out – on my reading list already!

      Cheers and KUTGW!

      Posted by mhausenblas | 2012-02-05, 21:57
  2. Hi Michael,

    JSON-LD focuses only on the serialization aspect only, but you should be able to use the HTTP Graph Store Protocol (coming as part of SPARQL 1.1 – see http://www.w3.org/2009/sparql/docs/http-rdf-update/) for read-operations involving JSON-LD data.

    POST-ing / PUT-ing a JSON-LD document to a RDF store URI, and that will update the underlying data.

    Posted by Alexandre Passant | 2012-02-05, 22:55
  3. So, what do you think would make JSON-LD satisfy your requirements? Certainly, JSON-LD is intended for follow-your-nose. The spec doesn’t define creation, but the issue seems to common to all RDF/Linked-Data formats.

    Posted by Gregg Kellogg | 2012-02-05, 23:07
  4. My understanding of the ‘JSON/HTTP’ space is this list:

    JSON-{Schema,Reference,Pointer,Patch} (Zyp)
    “A Convention for HTTP Access to JSON Resources”
    The Object Network

    Obviously, the Object Network is as different as any of them to each other. Not sure if it’s really valuable to compare them, they each satisfy different needs and audiences. And tastes. None has to ‘win’.

    Posted by Duncan Cragg | 2012-02-05, 23:38


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