What is the full form of REST?

May 7, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Representational State Transfer (REST) is an architectural style for designing scalable web APIs. Though REST stands for Representational State Transfer, it is often used to refer to web APIs built using this style.

At its core, REST aims to create web services and APIs that leverage the features and capabilities native to the web itself. This includes using:

  • HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, DELETE to manipulate resources
  • URL paths to represent resources (/users, /products)
  • HTTP response codes to indicate status
  • Key Principles of REST

    There are several guiding principles and constraints that make an API "RESTful":

  • Client-Server - There should be a separation between the client and server.
  • Stateless - No client context is stored on the server between requests. Each request has enough information to service itself.
  • Cacheable - API responses should be cacheable to improve performance.
  • Uniform Interface - There should be a uniform way of interacting with a resource for retrieval and manipulation.
  • GET /users - gets a list of users
    POST /users - creates a new user 
  • Layered System - The client doesn't know (or care) if it's connected directly to the server or going through intermediaries like caches.
  • By following these constraints, REST aims to create services that have good performance, scalability, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability and reliability.

    REST in Practice

    Here is an example of a RESTful API that manages customer data:

    GET /customers - List all customers
    GET /customers/123 - Get customer with ID 123
    POST /customers - Create new customer
    PUT /customers/123 - Update customer 123
    DELETE /customers/123 - Delete customer 123

    REST has gained immense popularity for building APIs that power web and mobile applications because of its simplicity and scalability. Major websites like Twitter, Youtube, Stripe, and Shopify all use RESTful APIs.

    With the right foundations, REST makes it simpler to create services that can handle large amounts of traffic and data. The separation of client and server, stateless nature, and focus on caching help horizontally scale APIs.

    Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of what REST APIs are, their core principles, and why they have been widely adopted!

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