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Survey of Semantic Description of REST APIs


The REST architectural style assumes that client and server form a contract with content negotiation, not only on the data format but implicitly also on the semantics of the communicated data, i.e., an agreement on how the data have to be interpreted [247]. In different application scenarios such an agreement requires vendor-specific content types for the individual services to convey the meaning of the communicated data. The idea behind vendor-specific content types is that service providers can reuse content types and service consumers can make use of specific processors for the individual content types. In practice however, we see that many RESTful APIs on the Web simply make use of standard non-specific content types, e.g., text/xml or application/json [150]. Since the agreement on the semantics is only implicit, programmers developing client applications have to manually gain a deep understanding of several APIs from multiple providers.


  • Domain Ontology
  • Service Description
  • Graph Pattern
  • Semantic Description
  • Post Request

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    For example, the Twitter REST API:

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    A large archive of WADL descriptions is available on GitHub:

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    Search done on October 5th, 2009

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    Semantic Web Rule Language:

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    SOA4Alleu project fp7 - 215219,

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    Web applications that combine data from multiple sources to create new services, many of them listed in [64].

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    First documented appearance of JSON-P in Bob Ippolito’s December 2005 blog post:

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R. Verborgh and R. Van de Walle are funded by Ghent University, the Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology (iMinds), the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (iwt), the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (fwo Flanders), and the European Union. A. Harth and S. Speiser acknowledge the support of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 (PlanetData, Grant 257641). S. Stadtmüller has been supported by a Software Campus grant.

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Verborgh, R. et al. (2014). Survey of Semantic Description of REST APIs. In: Pautasso, C., Wilde, E., Alarcon, R. (eds) REST: Advanced Research Topics and Practical Applications. Springer, New York, NY.

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