Since the internet’s inception, we’ve used a range of apps and web pages to collect data for different services. Have you ever thought about where this knowledge comes from? The information is gathered from the servers. So, in this REST API post, we’ll look at how a client communicates with servers to access the information they need.
Here we are going to discuss what exactly is a REST API, and how does it functions and why do you use a REST API?
What Exactly is a REST API and How Does it Function?
It is the abbreviation for “representational state transfer.” It’s an architectural style that lays out a collection of guidelines for developing Web Services.
In a client-server communication, REST recommends creating an object of the data requested by the client and sending the object’s values to the user as a response. For instance, if a user requests a movie in Bangalore at a specific time and location, you can create an object on the server.
So, you’ve got an entity here, and you’re sending the state of an object.
The REST architectural style aids in using less bandwidth usage to make an application more internet-friendly. It is also referred to as the “internet language” because it is entirely dependent on resources.
Let’s move on to understanding the need for REST API now that you know what it is.
Why Do You Use a REST API?
Consider the following scenario: you’re using the Book My Show app to book a show. This program, obviously, needs a large amount of Input data, since the data in the application is never static. Movies are being released on a daily basis, or various cities are showing different languages movies at different times of the day. It’s never static, meaning that data in these applications are constantly evolving.
So, where do you think this knowledge comes from? This knowledge is accessed from the Server, also known as a Web-server. So, the client uses an API to request the necessary information from the server, and the server responds to the client.
The client receives a response in the form of an HTML Web Page in this case. But, do you think this is the kind of answer you’d get if you submitted a request?
So, I’m thinking that you’ll say no. Since you’d like the data to be returned in a standardized format rather than as a full Web page.
As a consequence, the data returned by the server in response to the client’s request is either in the JSON or XML format. The data in both JSON and XML have a proper hierarchical structure.
This seems to be very straightforward, right? However, the only problem with this system up to this point is that you have to use a lot of methods to get the details you need. In reality, when you need complicated data, using these methods to retrieve information becomes very inconvenient.
The REST API is useful in this case. The REST API creates an object and then sends the object’s values to the client as an answer. It takes a transaction and splits it down into tiny modules. Each of these modules is now used to deal with a different aspect of the transaction. This method offers greater versatility, but it necessitates a significant amount of work to build from the ground up.
Also Read: What is API and How Does It Work?
REST API Principles
Let’s take a look at the REST API Principles now. Dr. Fielding, who was the one who defined the REST API design in 2000, developed six ground principles. The 6 REST guiding principles are listed below:
1. Unattached to Any Nation
The requests sent from a client to a server would provide all of the necessary details for the server to understand the client’s requests. This may be in the URL, query-string parameters, the body, or even the headers.
The body contains the state of the requesting resource, while the URL is used to uniquely identify it. Following the server’s processing of the request, the client receives a response in the form of body, status, or headers.
2. Client-Server Architecture
The client-server restriction is based on the idea that the client and server should be kept separate and able to grow independently of one another. To put it another way, I should be able to make adjustments to my mobile app without affecting the server’s data structure or database architecture.
At the same time, I should be able to make improvements to my server program or the database without affecting the mobile client. This separates the issues, allowing each application to evolve and scale independently of the others, allowing the company to grow quickly and efficiently.
3. Interface that is Consistent
REST has four interface constraints in order to achieve uniformity in the application:
- Identifying opportunities
- Manipulation of capital by the use of representations
- Messages that are self-descriptive
- The engine of the application state is hypermedia.
4. It’s Cacheable
Applications are often rendered cacheable in order to boost performance. This is accomplished by either indirectly or expressly marking the server’s answer as cacheable or non-cacheable.
If the response is cacheable, the client cache will reuse the response data in the future for similar responses.
5. Multi-Layered Framework
By restricting component behavior, the layered device architecture makes an application more stable.
Since components in each layer cannot communicate beyond the next immediate layer they are in, this architecture helps to improve the application’s security. It also supports load balancing and offers shared caches to help with scalability.
6. On-demand Coding
This is an optional restriction that is seldom used. It allows for the installation and use of a client’s code or applets inside the program. In turn, it makes clients’ lives easier by building a smart framework that isn’t reliant on its own code structure.
Now that you understand the concepts of REST API, let’s look at the REST API Methods.
The Words REST and HTTP are not Synonymous
Simply put, data and functionality are called resources in the REST architectural style, and they are accessed using Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs).
A series of simple, well-defined operations are used to operate on the resources. Clients and servers share resource representations through a structured interface and protocol, most commonly HTTP.