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What Is A REST API, And How Does It Work

Author: Bridget

15 November, 2022

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API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a set of rules that tells devices and applications how to communicate with each other. Without REST APIs, it would be hard to connect software and make apps communicate with each other. APIs can be made in many types of designs. But when building APIs for integrating software, the REST design is usually the best. REST APIs are used by big companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. They are praised for being easy to use and for being able to connect to the most popular web apps in the world.

What Is  A REST API?

REST, "representational state transfer," is a set of rules for how web applications communicate with each other over the internet. So, a RESTful API is an API that follows these rules and gives software integrations and communications more flexibility, bandwidth, and speed. REST APIs act as a go-between for your client and your host server. They take requests for resources and send responses over HTTP. In a REST design, the client starts the interaction. For example, using a URL to get to a webpage is a common way to make an HTTP request.

How Does REST API Work?

REST APIs use HTTP requests to create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) records within a resource. For example, a REST API would use a GET request to get a record, a POST request to create a record, a PUT request to change a record, and a DELETE request to get rid of a record. In API calls, you can use any HTTP method. A well-made REST API is like a website that runs in a web browser with HTTP functionality. The resource representation is the state of a resource at any given moment or timestamp. A client can get this information in almost any format, like JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), HTML, XLT, Python, PHP, or just plain text. JSON is popular because both people and machines can read it, and it can be used with any programming language.

Request headers and parameters are also important in REST API calls because they contain important identifier information like metadata, authorizations, uniform resource identifiers (URIs), caching, cookies, and more. Well-designed REST APIs use request headers, response headers, and standard HTTP status codes.

What Is Rest API Used For?

APIs are made up of a set of rules and protocols. You need them for app development and integration because they make it easy for two pieces of software, like a data provider (a server) and a user, to share data.

Below are some of the uses of rest API

1. Web Use

REST is not limited to a single client-side technology because it can be used for many projects, such as:

Since you are not limited to a certain client-side stack, you can build any kind of infrastructure for your business.

2. Cloud Technologies

Because they don't keep track of state, REST API calls are great for cloud applications. You can re-deploy stateless apps if something goes wrong, and they can grow to handle changes in traffic.

3. Cloud Computing Services

To connect an API to a service, you have to decide how the URL is decoded. This is why more cloud services have started to use REST than ever before. Thanks to cloud computing and microservices, RESTful API architecture has become the industry standard.

Rest API Best Practices

REST APIs are an important part of Web Development because they make communication easy for the client and the server. Below are some rest API best practices:

1. Use the JSON format to send and receive information

In place of XML and HTML, JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) has become the commonest way to send and receive API data. This is because JSON data are readable by both computer and human beings. 

As a developer, you must set the content-type of your response headers to application/JSON so that the client-side of your application can understand the response. 

2. Instead of verbs, use nouns in the endpoint paths

When making a REST API, use nouns in the endpoint paths to indicate the function of each path.

On the other hand, HTTP methods like GET, COPY, POST, PURGE, PUT, LINK, UNLINK, PATCH, and DELETE are verbs used to do basic CRUD operations like Create, Read, Update, Delete. 

3. Use status codes to handle request errors

Ensure you use standard HTTP status codes when responding to requests made to your API. This will let your users know what is going on, whether the request was successful or if something else is happening.

For example, status code 500-599 means server error, 400-499 means client-side error, 300-399 indicates a redirect problem, 200 indicates a successful request, etc. 

4. Secure your application with SSL

SSL is an abbreviation for secure socket layer. It is an important security feature for all REST APIs. Moreover, you should also consider making the communication between the server and the client private and ensure anyone using the API doesn't get more than they ask for. This will make your API safer and less likely to be attacked by bad people.

Rest API Testing Tool

Development and testing teams use Rest API testing tools to check how well a software works before it gets to users.

Below are some of the top rest API testing tools:

  • Katalon Studio 
  • Postman
  • Apigee
  • JMeter
  • Rest-assured
  • Assertible
  • Soap UI
  • Karate DSL
  • Rest Console
  • API Fortress

Conclusion

Most people think REST APIs will soon be the standard way to communicate on the web, and they are right. They allow any two online applications to communicate and share data. With REST API, a small startup can interface with a big government agency and vice versa. When software tools work together, they can make incredibly powerful and innovative systems. Any growing online platform should want to be a part of this. If you are looking to connect your app to the software world, then REST API is the way out. If you want to hire a freelance web developer for your business or upcoming technological solutions, visit our website to hire some of the best UI/UX designers and Software Developers in the world.

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