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Title: Towards open services on the Web : a semantic approach
Author: Maleshkova, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 226X
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2015
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The World Wide Web (WWW) has significantly evolved since it was first released as a publicly available service on the Internet, developing from a collection of a few interlinked static pages to a global ubiquitous platform for sharing, searching and browsing dynamic and customisable content, in a variety of different media formats. It plays a major role in the lives of individuals, as a source of information, knowledge and entertainment, as well as in the way business and communication are done within and between companies. This transformation was triggered by the ever-growing number of users and websites, and continues to be supported by current developments such as the SocialWeb, Linked Data, andWeb APIs and Services, which together pave the way for the Web as a dynamic data environment. The work presented in this thesis aims to contribute to a more integrated Web, where services, data and Web content can be seamlessly combined and interlinked, without having to deal with the intricacies of the separate data sources or the specific technology implementations. The vision of Open Services on the Web aims to facilitate the unified use of Web APIs, Web Services and Linked Data sources, so that users can retrieve data without differentiating whether its source is a website, a Web API or even a mashup. However, before this can be achieved, there are a number of problems that need to be addressed. In particular, the integrated and unified handling of services, and especially Web APIs, is very challenging because of the heterogeneous landscape of implementation approaches, underlying technologies and forms of documentation. In particular, in the context of Web APIs, the main limitations are caused by the fact that currently documentation is commonly provided directly in HTML, as part of a webpage, which is not meant for automated machine processing of the service properties, in contrast to XML, for example. This situation is aggravated by the fact that Web APIs are proliferating quite autonomously, without adhering to particular guidelines and specifications. This results in a wide variety of description forms and structures, accompanied by a range of diverse underlying technologies, forcing developers to individually interpret the documentation, and carry out complicated and tedious development work. The result is the implementation of individual custom solutions that are rarely reusable and have very low support for interoperation. We contribute towards achieving the vision Open Services on theWeb by tackling some of these challenges and supporting the wider, integrated and more automated use of Web APIs. In particular, we present a thorough analysis of the current state of Web APIs, giving the results of two Web API surveys. We use the collected data in order to draw conclusions about occurring practices and trends, and common API characteristics. The results provide essential input for acquiring a real-world view onWeb APIs, for identifying key service properties, for determining best practices, for pointing out difficulties and implementation challenges, and for deducing a baseline for the support that any solution approach needs to provide. The so gathered details are used for developing a shared formal model for describing, modelling and annotating Web APIs, which serves as the basis for decreasing the level of manual effort, involved in completing common service tasks, and provides a unifying overlay on top of the heterogeneous API landscape. This shared model - the Core Service Model captures all essential API characteristics, thus providing common grounds for developing support solutions in the context of using Web APIs, but also enables a unified view over traditional Web services and APIs, facilitating their interoperable handing and enabling the reuse of existing Web service approaches and solutions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available