Joshua T Kalis he/him/his

What is Hypermedia?


That's a good question...

Isn't it usually the case that when this statement is uttered, the person who delivered it doesn't have an answer?


What is Hypermedia?

... as it pertains to HTTP APIs.


Hypermedia

Hypermedia is defined by the presence of application control information embedded within, or as a layer above, the presentation of information. ~ Fielding

... ok ...

Hypermedia is a very general idea of documents or resources linked together ~ Matt Nagi (HipChat conversation)


Forest Gump



Ziggy, gone too far.


Hypermedia = data + metadata

A resource representation, including links (URLs) to additional actions (affordances) and optionally related resources.


Codify knowledge into the API so that developers can use it. Let developers be lazy and not know all of your API to use a small part of it.

Some Rules

  1. URL construction should not be knowledge that must be shared between producer and consumer; knowing about URLs is better left to the producer only.
  2. A resource representation should link to affordances. - How to interact with the affordances should be documented.
  3. Documentation of a resource should be linked within a resource response to help developers learn more about the current resource; if and when needed.

Morpheus, show me.


Read the fine print.


Disclaimer

These examples will ignore Hypermedia specifications to start out. These examples are only to illustrate concepts not suggest a data format to be used.


URL Construction

Plain Resource API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy",
  "Movies": [
    {
      "Id": 298750,
      "Title": "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown"
    },

    {
      "Id": 298751,
      "Title": "He's a Bully, Charlie Brown"
    }
  ]
}

Hypermedia-ized API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy",
  "URL": "/characters/snoopy",
  "Movies": [
    {
      "Title": "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown",
      "URL": "/movies/298750"
    },

    {
      "Title": "He's a Bully, Charlie Brown",
      "URL": "/movies/298751"
    }
  ]
}

URL Construction (cont.)

If you provide a link to another resource, within a resource representation, and don't require the API consumer to know what is available ahead of time, the consumer and provider will be less coupled together.

HINT: less coupling is a good thing in this case.

Every time your API changes, in a breaking way, that gives consumers reason to evaluate options that do not include using your service.


Plain Resource API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy"
}

Hypermedia-ized API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy",
  "Affordances": [
    {
      "Afford": "Get a list of movies for this character.",
      "Method": "GET",
      "URL": "/movies?character=snoopy"
    },

    {
      "Afford": "Update information about this character.",
      "Method": "PUT",
      "URL": "/character/snoopy"
    }
  ]
}

Documentation

Plain Resource API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy"
}

Hypermedia-ized API Response

{
  "Name": "Snoopy",
  "Documentation": "/docs.other.domain/characters"
}

Hypermedia Standards (media-types)

Custom? Yes, you may find that the standards that have been defined may not fit your use case and you may choose to define your own. If you do, you should write a specification for it and your team and consumers should know about it.


Hypermedia Clients

One goal of Hypermedia is to be consumed by software, known as Hypermedia API Clients.


Forthcoming Presentation?

What Is A Hypermedia Client?


Thank You


Resources