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JSON, JSON everywhere

Via Ajaxian, just saw an announcement for Persevere, a network-centric, JSON-based generic storage engine. It features:

  • A REST-based interface over regular old HTTP
  • JSON as the native data going in and out, including circular references and such
  • Search interface based around JSONPath
  • RPC interface based on JSON-RPC
  • Seemingly buzzword compliant across the board

I’ve been thinking about these sorts of servers a lot lately (couchdb and strokedb are two others) in the context of the “not-the-catalog” data we track here at the library.

For some stuff, clearly we need the power and speed of a real database. That power and speed isn’t free, though — you have to set up the tables, map relationships, build an interface on top of it, etc. While it’s not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a lot of screwing around and involves a few levels of security and has a friendly red sign on the door that reads “Programmers only, please.”

For other data, though, a structured or semi-structured data store based on a plain text format like JSON would be great. Since everything is a URL, we can handle security at the HTTP-auth/authz level. Library hours, lists of databases we subscribe to, staff directory data — these are data that could, if we wanted, be moved into a generic store like this.

The exciting stuff comes when you stop thinking about traditional database applications and think more in terms of having a data storage endpoint that pretty much anyone with a modicum of knowledge and authorization could throw stuff into. Want to build your own tagging system? Your own “My Shelf?” How about a comment form that straddles the edge between “email me the results” and “ask someone to hook me up to a database”? Or a javascript library that automatically takes survey submissions and sticks them into a system like this?

This is the flip-side of my last post. We’re not talking about hard-core, multiply-linked, core-business metadata. For that, we need ridiculously smart people figuring out how to best leverage the, say, 8 million MARC records we’ve got lying around. But for other stuff…this seems really, really cool.