REST in GIS
REST services have been growing in popularity for quite a while now. REST has especially been a great fit for the web mapping world. A whole bunch of web map service providers out there are already using REST in their offering. The main use of REST in the online web mapping services has been around the access and delivery of cached map tiles. REST services just standardize the way in which map tiles are requested by clients, and the ways that servers describe their holdings. Or in other words, an URL containing information on the map center point, map scale, layer and the image height and width as query parameters maps directly to pre-cached map tiles sitting on the server. This also enables caching of the map tiles on the client side thus helping speed up the application and reduce bandwidth usage. ESRI realized the importance of REST in GIS and are offering their ArcWeb Services in REST. More information on REST access to ArcWeb services can be found here. Even OSGeo is working on a “Tile Map Service Specification“.
But there are not too many REST based vector data service. There is work being done in this area also and the demo found here illustrated how REST services can be utilized for vector data. The demo actually loads vector data using a REST service. The vector data is transferred around in the JSON format specifically the still under development GeoJSON format. The demo also allows users to update the database using a REST service. It is actually exciting to see all these technologies come together seamlessly.