The Open Data Protocol (OData), which Microsoft today uses to query and update Web data, could soon find much broader use as it heads toward standardization at the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).
One of the groups that is backing the OASIS standardization of OData is open source middleware vendor WS02. While WS02 is not currently integrating OData into its open source middleware, CTO Paul Freemantle sees the promise in the protocol for extending existing capabilities.
Freemantle explained that WS02 today uses the Atom Publishing Protocol AtomPub), which he says lets developers get and update data in a very RESTful way. OData extends AtomPub in a standardized way with some query capabilities.
“The thing that you also get from OData on top of AtomPub are query capabilities. So, a standardized URL syntax that, for example, can let you restrict a query to certain things,” Freemantle said. “It also has the ability to understand a little bit better what the columns and values are in data.”
Another benefit of OData is that it has both an XML and a JSON binding that is done in a RESTful manner.
“OData has the right balance of power and simplicity and I expect to see a lot of uses come out of it very quickly,” Freemantle said.
He expects that OData will gain acceptance quickly for basic use cases where a developer just browses to find a query that can then be embedded in a mobile app.
The fact that OData is now headed to OASIS is important to Freemantle as it means the protocol will have an official stamp of standardization behind it. He noted that OASIS has a very clear and open process that is very straightforward.
“OASIS has a process where a standard can get registered as an international standard that is accepted by governments,” Freemantle said. “From the point of view of getting it used widely, I see OData as being very powerful for governments that are trying to make data more open to their citizens.”
OData and Microsoft Openness
Microsoft and the open source community have not always been the best of friends. When it comes to OData, Freemantle’s view is that Microsoft deserves some credit.
“One of the things I think they’ve done well is that they set up an open community website for OData,” Freemantle said. “There was a time when all the big vendors would just huddle in secret and then talk to the W3C or OASIS and say, this is what we want and then rubber stamp that as a standard.”
In contrast, Freemantle noted that what Microsoft has done with OData is a very open process and they really tried to create a community around it as well.
“It’s very different than the sort of model we saw five years ago,” Freemantle said. “I think that it’s nice to see change in the industry.”
The fact that Microsoft is taking OData to a standards body is also key to WSO2 future integration with the technology. Freemantle said that there is nothing missing from the OData specification as it currently stands.
“We felt it would be nice for OData to be an OASIS standard first before we jumped in,” Freemantle said. “It is part of Microsoft’s open specification promise but once it’s in OASIS, it’s even more open.”
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at