All You Need to Know about REST API Development
REST API development provides a flexible guide for web developers in creating a universal architecture for API requests. In this entry, we’ll explore the basic RESTful development concepts for bridging elements in software architectures.
The REST API development hinges on two of the most crucial aspects of today’s web development—REST principles and RESTful architecture. These two are intertwined; they guide software developers in building a universal environment for handling API requests.
But the term can be confusing, especially among people who are not familiar with it. So, we’ll unpack each one of them and understand their roles in providing services for the Web.
REST or Representational State Transfer is a software architectural style that sets the standards in the way computers talk to each other on the Internet. In other words, it provides a guideline on how large-scale hypermedia systems (such as the Web) should behave.
Dr. Roy Fielding, a computer scientist, first coined this term in his doctoral dissertation at UC Irvine. The word REST illustrates how well-built web applications should look and feel. He was responsible for setting the REST standards, especially for the HTTP 1.0, 1.1, and URI (Uniform Resource Identifier).
What’s great about REST is it’s lightweight and uses less bandwidth which is ideal for efficient internet usage. Today, REST is popular and widely used in API development.
REST API: An Overview
Now that we know what REST means let’s move on to APIs. Application Programming Interface or API is a set of protocols or constraints that govern how applications communicate with each other.
Think of an API as a messenger or intermediary who takes your requests, processes them, and returns with a response. Similar to what a waiter does at a restaurant. They take your order, send it to the kitchen staff, and come back with your food. Whenever you send a chat message on your smartphone, check the weather, or browse Facebook, APIs allow you to send and deliver the information.
When we combine them together, we have—you guessed it, a REST API (or RESTful API).
Simply put, a RESTful API is a web API that conforms to the design principles of REST. It allows for seamless interaction between RESTful web services. These web services should deliver their web resources in a textual format. It’s to ensure that they’re read and modified using a stateless protocol and predefined set of instructions.
RESTful API Principles
REST is extremely popular in the software industry, particularly in creating stateless APIs. REST-compliant systems aim for better performance and scalability at reusing components that can be updated without affecting the entire system while it is running.
So to achieve this goal, one has to follow the REST principles:
- Client-Server Architecture – In RESTful API design, the client and server applications are independent of each other. The client application should only know the URL from the requested data.
- Statelessness – It means that each API request should include all the necessary information to process it. Hence, REST APIs don’t need server-side sessions.
- Cacheability – All web resources should be cacheable on the client and server-side. Server responses should inform whether or not it allows caching when delivering resources.
- Uniform Interface – Regardless of where the API request comes from, it should all look the same. RESTful API development ensures that a piece of data (e.g., user’s username) must belong to a single URI.
- Layered System – The calls and responses in RESTful API go through various layers. Don’t assume that client and server applications connect directly to each other.
- Code on demand (optional) – A RESTful API doesn’t typically deliver static resources. However, responses in some cases may include executable code. The code, in this case, must function on-demand.
How does REST API Design Work
Here’s how REST API works from the side of an API user.
The web developer (API user) creates scripts for web applications to connect to an external API server. It transmits API data to an external server via HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests. The developer will then display the data on their website without accessing the external server.
Generally, there are four basic HTTP commands to access RESTful APIs. These are:
- GET – retrieve an object
- POST – create or process a new object
- PUT – modify or replace an object
- DELETE – remove or delete an object
It processes each command through an API call to a server and tells it what to do. However, most web APIs only allow GET requests when retrieving data from an external server. Additionally, the GET and POST commands are cacheable. It means that responses to these requests are stored for future use.
As calls are often stateless, REST is beneficial in cloud apps. Stateless APIs can easily be reassigned when something fails. In addition, it can scale to allow load changes. That’s because any requests can be pointed to any instance in a component. Nothing is saved that will be remembered in the next transaction.
It’s for this reason that developers prefer REST for web applications. The REST standard is useful in cloud services since tying a service with an API depends on how a URL is decoded. Microservices and cloud computing are most likely to employ REST API development in the future.
REST API Development with Full Scale
To wrap this up, RESTful API is an application that adheres to the REST architectural constraints. It doesn’t matter what language you use to write; you can only consider it a REST API if it performs within the REST constraints.
The benefits that REST API offer mean that it will remain an intrinsic part of the web development process. More so now that there’s a surge in demand for applications that directly impact customer experience.
To meet such market demands, a shift towards improved automation is valuable. Thus, you want to start with small but measurable projects.
Then move forward with scaling to other processes in other areas of the organization. At Full Scale, we empower our clients with automation capabilities that make each process innovative.
Our elite team of software professionals has solid experience in REST API development to address all concerns with implementing APIs. From recruitment to onboarding, we support our clients by matching them with the best software developers to scale their business idea.
Whether you only need one or an entire development team, we’re here in every phase of your recruitment needs.
So, take the next step. Sign up for a FREE consultation with our team today.