What is REST API and methods?

May 7, 2024 ยท 2 min read

REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs have become the standard for building APIs that allow different software systems to communicate with each other. A REST API breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each with a specific role. This modular design provides flexibility and scalability.

What is a REST API?

A REST API is an application programming interface (API) that conforms to REST architectural constraints. It uses HTTP requests to perform operations such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE on resources.

Here is an example GET request to retrieve a user resource with id 123:

GET /api/users/123

And a POST request to create a new user:

POST /api/users
  "name": "John Doe",
  "email": "john@example.com"

Resources in a REST API are identified by URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). The API exposes endpoints that operate on these resources.

Benefits of REST APIs

  • Simplicity: REST uses simpler architecture, making it easy to build, test and scale.
  • Flexibility: REST is not tied to any specific protocol or standard, allowing flexibility.
  • Scalability: The stateless nature of REST enables high scalability.
  • Portability: REST API runs seamlessly on any device or operating system.
  • Key REST Methods

    The key HTTP methods used in REST APIs are:

  • GET: Retrieve a resource
  • POST: Create a resource
  • PUT: Update a resource
  • DELETE: Delete a resource
  • For example, making a GET request on /users would retrieve all user resources, while making a DELETE request on /users/123 deletes user 123.

    When to Use REST APIs

    REST APIs shine for public APIs. The separation of client and server and stateless nature enable high scalability. Some examples:

  • Public APIs like Twitter, Youtube, Google Maps
  • Integration APIs allowing communication between applications
  • Mobile Applications calling backend services
  • REST continues to gain popularity for building scalable and flexible APIs. With its simplicity and wide adoption, REST will continue to be the standard for APIs in the foreseeable future.

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