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In the blog, we covered important topics such as what are REST APIs, what are the differences between HTTP API and REST API, and when we should use REST APIs in detail.

 

Table of Contents

What are REST APIs? HTTP API vs REST API

What is an HTTP API?

What is a REST API?

When to use REST APIs

When not to use REST

 

REST APIs are a common topic of conversation in the web development community, as you know. One side is discussing how useful the functionality of APIs is, while others are just trying to understand what it means and how REST relates to RESTful. This is an important issue for developers considering entering the industry. It will help you grasp the modern state of client/server data architecture. In today's blog, we will explain the details of REST APIs by explaining how they are different from other HTTP APIs and for which applications you should use them.

 

What is an HTTP API?

Web API is a protocol that describes how your customers can access resources and what methods work in your architecture. These resources can be from various types of media such as JavaScript or HTML elements, metadata, or images. In fact, you can think of it as a translation guide from one technology to another. HTTP API uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol as the communication protocol between the two systems. These provide endpoints as API gateways for HTTP requests to reach a server.

For instance, you can use an HTTP API every time you set up a Zoom meeting on your Google calendar. The API defines how Zoom can communicate directly with Google servers to embed the Zoom meeting into the event, rather than copying and pasting the meeting invitation into a field.

 

GraphQL API

The second most popular API format is the GraphQL API. It aims to fix common issues with the REST API structure. It is open source and designed to keep data in a tree structure. The main difference is that the GraphQL API is more flexible than REST because of the way it handles data fetching requests. If the data is of a slightly different type than is usually requested, REST will often over-or under-fetch data. The GraphQL API allows requests to look up the exact amount and type of data they need. This means you never need to send multiple requests or dump unnecessary data.

 

Falcor API

Falcor uses most of the REST API architecture with paths and references. However, it automates most of the request structure. Falcor lets you use data as you need it, rather than requesting it from the server. The system will determine whether the data is client-side or server-side and then automatically retrieve it. This dynamic approach makes Falcor great for video streaming applications such as various live update applications.

 

gRPC APIs

Remote Procedure Control (RPC) is the precursor to the REST APIs and has been in use since 1970. The important difference between RPC and REST is that in RPC architectures, almost all of the operations are done by the server. Recently Google updated to newer gRPC to use RPC with microservice architecture. gRPC uses Protobuf instead of JSON/XML and is built on HTTP 2 rather than HTTP 1.1.

 

What is a REST API?

REST API is an architectural model for creating web services, which stands for Representational State Transfer, developed by Roy Fielding in 2000. It has led to a growing collection of RESTful web services that follow REST principles. Now REST APIs are widely used by application developers because of how simply they can communicate with other machines over complex operations such as COBRA, RPC, or Simple Object Access Protocol. REST is a rule set that defines best practices for sharing data between clients and servers. It's essentially a design style used when building HTTP or other APIs that require you to use only CRUD functions, regardless of complexity. 

 

Not all HTTP APIs are REST APIs. To be considered a REST API, the API must meet the following architectural requirements:

  • Client-server: REST applications have a server that manages application data and state. The server communicates with a client that manages user interactions. A clear separation of concerns separates the two components. This means you can update and improve them in individual parts.
  • Stateless: Servers do not maintain client state, clients manage their own application state. The client's requests to the server contain all the information needed to process them.
  • Cacheable: Servers should mark their responses as cacheable or cacheable. Systems and clients can cache responses when appropriate to improve performance. They also eliminate non-cacheable information, so no client uses outdated data.
  • Uniform interface: This is the best-known feature or rule of REST. “The main feature that distinguishes the REST architectural style from other network-based styles is its emphasis on a uniform interface between components,” says Fielding. REST services source data with a consistent namespace.
  • Layered system: Components in the system cannot see beyond their layers. This limited scope lets you easily add load balancers and proxies to improve authentication security or performance.

 

When to use REST APIs

REST APIs are well suited for building general-purpose applications that will be scalable in the future. REST APIs naturally depart from your client-side technology. This means your app can run well on iOS, a browser, or a future device with minimal hassle. You can build your app and focus on developing the app itself, with less worrying about being tied to specific client-side stacks. RESTful APIs are therefore more scalable and longer-lasting. 

 

When not to use REST

Stateless architecture is both helpful and limiting to REST. On the one hand, stateless installations extend system life by allowing you to replace servers when servers eventually become obsolete. On the other hand, all requests must contain all the data to complete the request in the message payload. This works well when it only needs some data but quickly becomes unmanageable for complex requests. With REST, the trade-off is between load size and stateless resilience.

In conclusion, REST is a useful tool in your toolbox and a good general rule to follow, but it shouldn't be your programming dogma. We hope that this blog post will be beneficial for you. We will continue to create useful works in order to get inspired by everyone. We are sure that we will achieve splendid things altogether. Keep on following Finage for the best and more.

 


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