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How does a REST API Work?

3 Minute Read

What is a REST API?

 The REST in REST API stands for Representational State Transfer. REST is an architectural style for distributed hypermedia that was first introduced in 2000. REST APIs can be used for virtually any existing protocol and it positions itself to take exploit HTTP when it’s used for web APIs. This is very useful because developers don’t need to install additional libraries or software to use the REST API design. This allows for increased flexibility and the REST API can perform multiple functions seamlessly.

how does a REST API work_SDS_Strategic Data Systems

 Client & Resource:

 Identifying and defining the client and resource is important to understand REST APIs. The client is the person or software that is using the API. For example, if you are using Instagram as a developer to read/write data, you are the client. If you are browsing Instagram from your computer, the browser you are using is the client. In contrast, the resource is the subject that the API is providing information about. If you are using an Instagram API to gather data on a page like followers, posts, etc., the Instagram page would be the resource in that scenario.

 What are the constraints for REST APIs?

There are several constraints that must be adhered to for REST APIs. These restraints include:

Uniform interface- a uniform interface allows for the independent evolution of an application without having to factor in models, servers, and anything else attached to the API. The uniform interface provides a standard means of communication by communication in a single language between the client and the server.

Client-server separation- client-server separations are vital for REST APIs because it addresses data storage issues and improves the portability of the user interface across all platforms. By simplifying the server components, scalability is also improved.

Stateless- REST APIs are stateless, this means calls between the client and resource are made independently of one another. The server doesn’t remember any information about the user who used the API. Every request is stored as a new session, even if all the interactions have been from the same API user.

Cacheable- a REST API should be designed to store cacheable data. This helps reduce the amount of interactions with the API, which in turn reduces server storage. This helps improve efficiency in general and the caching should be done on the client side preferably.

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