How Does REST API Work?

What is the REST API? It means the Representational State Transfer API. It is designed to make use of existing protocols. REST may be applied to any protocol. When used for Web APIs, it often takes advantage of HTTP ( Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). In other words, there is no need for developers to install additional software or libraries when using the REST API.

Explaining REST API

API refers to the Application Programming Interface. API is made up of rules that let programs communicate with one another. The API is created by the developer in the server so clients can interact with it.

On the other hand, REST determines how the API looks like. It stands for “Representational State Transfer”. It is composed of rules followed by the developers.

REST API defines a set of functions. With these functions, developers can make requests and receive responses through HTTP protocol. For instance, GET and POST.

An example of a distributed system that uses REST is the World Wide Web (WWW). It uses the REST protocol to give websites a hypermedia-driven interface.

The REST API should specify what it can offer and how to use it. For instance, it must show details like query parameters, response format, request limitations, and public use/API keys. Likewise, method (GET/POST/PUT/DELETE), language support, callback usage, and HTTPS support. In addition to this, resource representations should be self-descriptive.

REST API Features

Client-server 

The client takes care of the front end while the server tackles the back-end. However, both can be replaced independently of each other.

Stateless 

No client data is stored on the server between requests. Thus, the session state is stored on the client.

Cacheable 

Clients can cache the response to improve performance.

Advantages of REST API

  • It is often simple to build and adapt.
  • Low use of resources.
  • Process instances are created explicitly.
  • With the initial URI, the client does not require routing information.
  • Clients can have a generic ‘listener’ interface for notifications

REST API Drawbacks

Some of the problems of REST are not built-in problems of the architectural style. Instead, they are drawbacks to the REST over HTTP implementation. Most notable of these is what is known as “lo-rest.” While technically it might still be RESTful, to be a uniform interface with two verbs is too small to be helpful.

One problem which is not HTTP specific is handling REST- programming languages are not resource-oriented, so the handling code that maps URIs tends to get messy. On the other hand, it is relatively hard to make the REST API hyper-text driven.

Most importantly, REST is not the answer to everything. For instance, most REST implementations do not support the notion of pub/sub. 

Winding Up

REST API is a set of rules that developers follow. These rules are helpful in the creation or building of software. Though REST API has its advantages, it also has disadvantages. However, it is a great way for clients to be able to speak with the server. Finally, the developer is the one who makes use of the REST API, so it can help create or generate software products with high quality.

 

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