When you are developing software, you might need it to share data with systems. For instance, let’s take a look at buying a car insurance procedure. Your insurer has to obtain information about your history and your vehicle. Therefore, they send a request to the car registration authorities, credit agencies, banks, and other servers. All these things will take place transparently in real-time to determine whether a policy can be offered. API which stands for Application programming interface enables two system change information. There are a lot of forms of APIs that programmers usually use them, In this article, we are going to concentrate on RESTful API.

What is the RESTful API architecture?

RESTful API is an architectural style for designing web applications. It might not be the best way to say but the RESTful API is pretty much works like an actual website. You make a call from a client to a server and in return, you take data you need. Both request and response would be in a structured form that has been determined before. All of this communication is underneath the HTTP protocol. It is possible to use other protocols as well. But the HTTP is more popular. The difference between RPC/SOAP and REST architecture is that RPC/SOAP works with actions and verbs. Meanwhile, REST works with things and nouns. In other words, REST considers objects on the server-side as a resource that can be destroyed, modified and created. For example, this blog post you are reading now is created on a database server as a posting object.

What are the advantages of RESTful API architecture?

Now we know the basic definition of the REST, it is time to see what benefits we gain if we change our API architecture to RESTful form.

  • As we mentioned above, RESTful API operates using HTTP. Since the data serializing process is done by JSON, this architecture can be used by any programming language. Because most of the famous programming languages whether it is JavaScript, PHP, Java, and python, are capable of making HTTP requests.
  • RESTful API is very straightforward to learn and comprehend. Its simplicity can help even non-professional programmers to take advantage of it.
  • Using the RESTful API, we are able to manage High loads very properly. In order to achieve this goal, we need to use the HTTP proxy server and cache.
  • Making Changes in RESTful API as easy as ABC.
  • RESTful API also suggests better protection with the use of OAuth protocol for verifying your REST requests.

 

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HTTP Methods

Now that we have established what a REST API is and what advantages it has, let’s look at the specific requests that a client can send to the server. Before we get deeper into it, we need to mention that there are some other types of request which are very rarely used (like HEAD, OPTIONS, and PATCH) that we are not going to explain details about them.

REST-API_Basic

  • GET
    This request is the most commonly used by the clients. Using this request, we are able to get or retrieve data from a specific resource.
  • POST
    This is also one of the request forms that clients use every time they open their browsers. For example, every time clients fill out a web form, they are actually creating a POST request. Although in this case, it is possible to use a GET request, it is not secure. Because the data you submit will have no protection and it can be seen by anyone. In HTML, form tags can take action alongside a method attribute. So the action will be the page you are trying to submit to and the method would be either POST or GET.
  • PUT
    The PUT request can either build a new resource or replace a target resource with the request payload. Usually, we have to send this request to an endpoint that has a specific ID. Because the server needs to know which one you want to update. The main difference between PUT and POST Methods is that PUT is idempotent. It means calling it multiple times will have the same effect as calling it just one time. For sending a PUT request, you need to use Ajax or standard javascript or jQuery. Additionally, if you are using a certain framework like angular, you need to install different modules including HTTP in order to send a PUT request.
  • DELETE
    As its name shows, a DELETE request will omit a specified resource on a database server. As we touched on PUT request, for deleting a resource you need to clearly identify which object you want to get rid of.

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Problems with the RESTful API

  • The first problem with the RESTful API architecture is basically it is not a formal specification.
  • There is a lot of guesswork involved. Just like we discussed, there are lots of methods in HTTP. Due to this fact, if you want to create a new user on your website, it is not completely clear that which one of the POST or PUT requests can be used. It means you need to decide which status code you want to receive from the server when you are waiting for the answer.
  • The shape of incoming data is often unknown. Although there are some shortcuts you can use to make things more simple, there is no official schematic solution in terms of RESTful API.

 

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