If you are exploring things related to development or programming, you may have come across the term RESTful API. In terminology, RESTful API is a term that comes from two words, namely API and REST.
So, when an API meets the standards dictated by the REST architectural style, it’s called a RESTful API. Especially for developers, this kind of API is very useful for developing cloud-based applications.
Curious and want to know more about what a RESTful API is? This article will provide the answer for you. We don’t only discuss the meaning of RESTful API, but also its principles and functions. Read more for further information!
What is API?
Before continuing to discuss what a RESTful API is, you should first understand the meaning of API.
Application Programming Interface or API is a set of standards and protocols that integrate users with applications so that users can access and use the application software functions.
Its function is as a mediator or communicator between the user and the system. Therefore, API is very important to facilitate access and application development on the internet.
The interoperability provided by these APIs typically occurs in application and user interactions, and between two different applications. As a result, applications or users who access this system do not need to understand the details of the development and implementation of the software that provides the API.
What is REST and RESTful API?
REST stands for Representational State Transfer and is a type of software architecture. REST represents a set of constraints that must be followed when you develop applications on the internet.
An API will be called a RESTful API if it is able to meet the conditions and limitations set by this REST architectural style. These criteria are intended to standardize the communication process between various platforms and make it more flexible.
With these rules, the developed application can have a neatly arranged interface and procedures that are standardized and easy to represent. This also facilitates communication between devices and users.
Some of the architectural limitations that characterize a RESTful API are:
- Client-server architecture – an architecture based on clients, servers and resources, where requests will be made over the HTTP protocol. This condition shows the independence between the client and server, which means that changes made by the user to the application on the device will not affect the server and its data structure. Likewise, changes made by a developer to an app’s database should not immediately impact a user’s device.
- Stateless communication – communication between client and server must not retain any information between each request. In a REST API, requests contain all the data that must be fulfilled immediately and are independent of information already stored in other sessions.
- Cache – REST APIs must be designed to cache data. When information is cached, requests and responses between the client and server are optimized.
- Unified interface or interface – A unified interface allows application development to be carried out independently between the user and the server. REST APIs must contain a unified interface because they provide standardized communication between the user and the software that provides the API. Manipulation of resources through representations (such as JSON or XML) is one of the conditions that must be met to develop a unified interface.
- System layers – each system layer must have a specific function (eg for security or loading). That is, each of these layers is responsible for the various steps involved in the process of user requests and server responses. These layers are hierarchically ordered and interact with each other even though they are separate.
How RESTful APIs Work
RESTful API works by manipulating resources and representations. These representations are exchanged between the user and the server through a standardized interface and a specific communication protocol, usually HTTP.
So, when the user wants to use the function of an application, the device will send a request via HTTP to the server. The server will look up the resource and communicate a state representation in response to the user via the same protocol. This representation can be made in various formats, such as JSON or XML.
In order to send an application request, some standard functions in the system database must be performed.
For example, the RESTful API sends a request to the server via HTTP to perform the basic function of removing a user named “Son” from the list of users. The request sent will be like this:
The operations used to access resources are standardized and well defined. Apart from the DELETE command, there are other commands such as http GET and POST that request fetching and creating resources or users.
Example Usage of REST API
RESTful APIs provide developers with a high degree of freedom and flexibility. So, using this API in a cloud application (cloud server) will provide many benefits.
Thanks to the REST principles, the representation sent by the server can be in various formats (such as JSON, XML, Python, etc.). Therefore, various APIs can be created to meet the various needs of applications and users.
Besides flexibility, another advantage of RESTful APIs is that they tend to use less bandwidth so that internet usage becomes more efficient.
One of the limitations of the REST architecture is stateless communication, which also provides important benefits for cloud applications. These limitations allow components to be relaunched without issue if something else fails, and to adapt more easily when traffic fluctuates.
Each request contains all the information required by the server to provide a response with the requested representation. This makes RESTful APIs ideal for web services, especially cloud-based ones.
This API is the perfect choice for users as it helps them to connect, manage and interact with Cloud servers in a standard-compliant, flexible and scalable way.
As such, the REST standard is becoming the method of choice for integrating applications and interfacing software components. Big websites like Twitter, Amazon, and Linkedin also use RESTful APIs.
In the end, this cloud computing trend will reinforce that the REST API architecture is the standard for future application development.
The difference between REST and RESTful
Not only in terms of terminology, REST and RESTful are actually different.
As we explained earlier, REST is a set of software architecture principles and constraints. While RESTful API is an API that meets the criteria set by Representational State Transfer or REST itself.
So, if an API is of the RESTful type, it means that this system is capable of implementing the principles put forward by Roy Fielding in his REST thesis.
So, now you know what a RESTful API is and what functions and uses are most suitable for it.
When you interact with applications on the internet, the API works like an interpreter that helps explain your request to the system so that the server can understand and fulfill your request.
The REST architectural style represents a particular set of principles, which, when applied to web application development, are what make an API a RESTful API.
The following criteria must be met for a RESTful API:
- The system is in client-server format
- Stateless communication
- Ability to cache data
- Unified interface
- Layer system
With the characteristics of Representational State Transfer, the REST architecture allows users to access, manage, and connect to application services on the internet, especially those based on the cloud (cloud server).
The rules and constraints set by REST bring distinct benefits to application and system development. The result is better flexibility, less bandwidth usage, and more secure and standardized protocols.
REST and RESTful technologies are expected to grow even more in the future and become the most popular standard for these functions. Have questions or suggestions? Don’t hesitate to share it in the comments below, OK?