If you’ve thought about getting data from sources such as GitHub or Twitter, you have probably heard of “REST API”. But what is a REST API? And how do they work? In today’s article, we’ll help you learn about REST APIs and how to use them effectively.
What is a REST API?
An API is an application programming interface that allows programs to communicate with each other. The API spells out the way for developers to write a program requesting services from an operating system or other application.
REST is a great option for building APIs, allowing users to communicate, control, and interact with cloud resources in a distributed environment. REST APIs are used by many popular sites such as Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
How does REST API work?
The REST API breaks down a transaction to create a variety of small modules. The underlying part of the transaction is addressed by each module. While this modularity gives developers a lot of flexibility, designing a REST API from the ground up can be a challenging task. Currently, several companies offer models for developers to use; the most popular ones are provided by Amazon S3, Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI), and OpenStack Swift.
A REST API uses commands to get the resources. At any given timestamp, the state of a resource is called a resource representation. The REST API uses existing HTTP methodologies defined by the RFC 2616 protocol, such as:
- GET to retrieve a resource
- PUT to change the state of or update a resource (object, file, or block)
- POST to create that resource
- DELETE to remove it
With REST, networked components are a resource to which the user requests access. Nothing can be retained by the REST service between executions as all calls are stateless.
REST architectural constraints
To be a truly REST API, a web service must adhere to 6 REST architectural constraints below:
- Uniform interface (UI): Resources should be uniquely recognizable by a single URL, and only through utilizing the underlying methods of the network protocol (DELETE, PUT and GET with HTTP) should a resource be manipulated.
- Client-server: There should be a strong difference between the client and the server. Data access, workload management, and security are the domains of the server. This loose connection between the client and the server allows each to be built and improved independently of the other.
- Stateless: All client-server operations should be stateless, and any state management needed should be performed on the client, not the server.
- Cacheable: Cache restrictions allow data to be implicitly or specifically classified as cacheable or non-cacheable in the response to the request. If the response is cached, the client cache will have the ability to reuse the response data for subsequent, identical requests.
- Layered system: By constraining component behavior so that each component cannot “see” beyond the immediate layer in which it interacts, the layered system enables the architecture to be composed of hierarchical layers.
- Code on demand (optional): Most of the time, the server sends back static resource representations in XML or JSON form. However, if needed, the servers will send the executable code to the client.
To wrap it up
We hope that this article has given you a great overview of the REST API and the way it operates. Visit our blog now for more insightful articles!