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RESTful API

What is a RESTful API?

In his 2000 doctorate dissertation, Dr. Roy Fielding defined REST (Representational State Transfer) API Design.

An API (application programming interface) is essentially a set of rules that permits programs to talk to each other. APIs are created by developers on servers and clients are allowed to talk to them. 

REST (Representational State Transfer) is a set of rules that developers follow while building their APIs. One of these rules is that when you link to a certain URL, you should receive a piece of data (a resource). The URLs are referred to as requests and the data received is called a response.


What are the advantages of RESTful APIs?

Here are the most significant advantages of REST APIs:

  • Flexibility: They handle various kinds of requests and send data in multiple formats.
  • Scalability: As your web application evolves and acquires new resources, your REST API will handle the growing amount and variety of requests with great speed.
  • Ease of use: You just need to provide a resource’s URL in order to request for it over a REST API. The fact that they incorporate a lot of already existing web technologies makes them even easier to develop and use.
  • Security: Allows you to verify your REST requests with the help of OAuth protocols.
  • Data synchronization: A REST API can synchronize a website’s data without causing any complications.


The 6 constraints of REST APIs

These are the rules that an API must follow in order to be called RESTful APIs. There are five strict, non-negotiable rules, along with one optional constraint.

1. Client-server separation

The client and server should both be separate from each other. Clients cannot respond to requests and servers cannot make requests. 

This allows you to modify server contents without having any impact on other clients, while also allowing your client software to scale its builds without impacting other servers.

2. Uniform interface

Every request and response needs to follow  a common protocol. Essentially, a uniform interface refers to a common language that any client cna use to communicate with any REST API.

This reduces the chance of information getting jumbled and lost, while ensuring that applications do not need to update their request processes whenever APIs update their request processes.

3. Stateless

REST APIs have to be stateless. This means that all interactions (calls) are made independently of each other. Every response shares all the information that is needed to complete the interaction. This minimizes the amount of server memory needed and increases the chances of getting successful, effective responses.

4. Cache

Caching helps reduce page load time and even saves server resources. REST APIs should be designed to allow data caching. When responses are sent to clients, they should indicate whether that particular resource can be cached, and if it can, for how long.

5. Layered system

 Usually there are multiple layers between the final server and the client. They handle traffic, improve security, and help with other tasks.

6. Code on demand

This principle actually happens to be optional. You can choose to let your API send code to clients in the response, allowing clients to run the code you send on their own backend systems.

4 basic HTTP requests

The basic requests that a client can make are:

  • GET: Retrieve a resource.
  • POST: Rreate a new resource.
  • PUT: Edit or update an existing resource.
  • DELETE: Delete a resource.


REST APIs vs. SOAP APIs

Here are the key differences between REST and SOAP APIs.

Resource requirements

Since REST APIs use multiple standards, they require fewer resources in comparison to SOAP APIs. Because SOAP APIs convert the data in XML, it needs greater resources and bandwidth.

Security

REST uses SSL and HTTPS for security purposes, while SOAP uses SSL and WS-security, making it the preferred option for cases involving payment details.

Interchange

Since REST is only an architectural pattern, it can use SOAP as the underlying protocol. But SOAP cannot use REST as it is a protocol itself.

Internal communication

SOAP only uses HTTP and XML, while REST uses HTTP, JSON, URL, and XML.

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RESTful API

October 14, 2020

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

What is a RESTful API?

In his 2000 doctorate dissertation, Dr. Roy Fielding defined REST (Representational State Transfer) API Design.

An API (application programming interface) is essentially a set of rules that permits programs to talk to each other. APIs are created by developers on servers and clients are allowed to talk to them. 

REST (Representational State Transfer) is a set of rules that developers follow while building their APIs. One of these rules is that when you link to a certain URL, you should receive a piece of data (a resource). The URLs are referred to as requests and the data received is called a response.


What are the advantages of RESTful APIs?

Here are the most significant advantages of REST APIs:

  • Flexibility: They handle various kinds of requests and send data in multiple formats.
  • Scalability: As your web application evolves and acquires new resources, your REST API will handle the growing amount and variety of requests with great speed.
  • Ease of use: You just need to provide a resource’s URL in order to request for it over a REST API. The fact that they incorporate a lot of already existing web technologies makes them even easier to develop and use.
  • Security: Allows you to verify your REST requests with the help of OAuth protocols.
  • Data synchronization: A REST API can synchronize a website’s data without causing any complications.


The 6 constraints of REST APIs

These are the rules that an API must follow in order to be called RESTful APIs. There are five strict, non-negotiable rules, along with one optional constraint.

1. Client-server separation

The client and server should both be separate from each other. Clients cannot respond to requests and servers cannot make requests. 

This allows you to modify server contents without having any impact on other clients, while also allowing your client software to scale its builds without impacting other servers.

2. Uniform interface

Every request and response needs to follow  a common protocol. Essentially, a uniform interface refers to a common language that any client cna use to communicate with any REST API.

This reduces the chance of information getting jumbled and lost, while ensuring that applications do not need to update their request processes whenever APIs update their request processes.

3. Stateless

REST APIs have to be stateless. This means that all interactions (calls) are made independently of each other. Every response shares all the information that is needed to complete the interaction. This minimizes the amount of server memory needed and increases the chances of getting successful, effective responses.

4. Cache

Caching helps reduce page load time and even saves server resources. REST APIs should be designed to allow data caching. When responses are sent to clients, they should indicate whether that particular resource can be cached, and if it can, for how long.

5. Layered system

 Usually there are multiple layers between the final server and the client. They handle traffic, improve security, and help with other tasks.

6. Code on demand

This principle actually happens to be optional. You can choose to let your API send code to clients in the response, allowing clients to run the code you send on their own backend systems.

4 basic HTTP requests

The basic requests that a client can make are:

  • GET: Retrieve a resource.
  • POST: Rreate a new resource.
  • PUT: Edit or update an existing resource.
  • DELETE: Delete a resource.


REST APIs vs. SOAP APIs

Here are the key differences between REST and SOAP APIs.

Resource requirements

Since REST APIs use multiple standards, they require fewer resources in comparison to SOAP APIs. Because SOAP APIs convert the data in XML, it needs greater resources and bandwidth.

Security

REST uses SSL and HTTPS for security purposes, while SOAP uses SSL and WS-security, making it the preferred option for cases involving payment details.

Interchange

Since REST is only an architectural pattern, it can use SOAP as the underlying protocol. But SOAP cannot use REST as it is a protocol itself.

Internal communication

SOAP only uses HTTP and XML, while REST uses HTTP, JSON, URL, and XML.

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