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If there is no current standard for your domain/service, consider creating a group to develop such a standard. It will make the life of service consumers much easier and will ease the adoption of web services in your domain.

titleComment from Anton Güntsch

For the (existing) recommendation "Follow service standards for your domain" I am not quite sure whether you really want this from a workflow developers point of view. If you take TAPIR as an example (which doesn't have a lot of uptake compared to BioCASE, DiGiR and DwC-A in the community by the way): it might fulfil all the requirements of biodiversity primary data networking but it's hard to understand and therefore not easy to use for persons who come across it for the first time and want to integrate it into their workflows/systems. Do we really want to recommend the use of such "standards"? I would rather say: use the standards of your community put consider adding simplified streamlined access points to make "external" Users happy.

Use a registered format

If possible, use a format registered with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). This is particularly important when the service is sending or receiving "leaf" data. If the format you want to use is not registered with the IETF, then take the small amount of effort needed to register it.


The HTTP protocol used by REST has a mechanism for specifying in the message header the format that the data should be returned in. For example:Accept: application/xml