There are many benefits of using Rest APIs instead of other services like SOAP, XML-RPC, etc. But using them can also be complicated and require a lot of work. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the fundamentals of how to design your own REST API and set up your own endpoint. We’ll go over the different types of endpoints, the difference between application/JSON and text/plain, what each field means and how it works, as well as examples that show you how to implement them in your API server.
What is a REST API?
REST or REpresentational State Transfer is a software architecture style designed by Roy Fielding in his 2000 Ph.D. dissertation. An API called RESTful meets certain criteria as laid out by Fielding. When we say REST or RESTful when talking about APIs, we usually refer to those specific architectural constraints of being stateless, cacheable, idempotent, and having endpoints associated with resources or collections of resources. According to Contentful, “Not all APIs are RESTful APIs — and some APIs take inspiration from the principles of REST without following the rules completely.”
what should You Consider While Planning an API Strategy?
While there are many things to consider while planning an API strategy, we’ll focus on five key considerations that are foundational to any API design:
- Being RESTful
- Using Hypermedia
When building a new app or making changes to an existing one, consider many factors before diving into design and development. One important factor is how your application will interact with other applications, which can affect its performance and user adoption.
How to Handle Exceptions in API?
The most popular way of dealing with exceptions is to pass them to the client using HTTP error codes. This technique has proven effective in solving many problems, but it also has its drawbacks. The first problem is that not all errors have HTTP equivalents. You can split error-handling code into two branches—code that handles errors while working with remote API and code that handles local exceptions: one server-side and one on the client-side.
When Do We Need Idempotency in Our APIs?
The classic example of idempotency is when a file needs to be copied from one place to another, and it doesn’t matter how many times you copy it. For our purposes, an operation is idempotent if we can repeat it any number of times without changing its meaning.
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Why Do We Use Response Codes in REST APIs?
Response codes are one of many ways to tell users how to interpret a response. There are times when data is returned and when an error message is returned. Sometimes it’s desirable for there to be no code at all.
How Do We Handle the Throttling of Requests in Our APIs?
Throttling occurs when your application receives too many requests in a given period. For example, if you allow users to request information from an API once per second, but they’re making 2 or 3 requests per second, your API will probably block them until they slow down. So what are the best practices for designing rest APIs:
- Use restful resources
- Include the appropriate number of query parameters and URL parameters in your request URLs
- Use HATEOAS for links and content in your response body
- Create a well-defined versioning plan for your API from its inception to get a clear overview of how things might change over time
- Leverage entity tags (etags) or if-match headers to improve concurrency control, reduce bandwidth usage, and save server processing time
Also, pagination allows you to break up a large API call into smaller, more manageable chunks. Here’s how to incorporate pagination into your API requests.
The best thing about REST APIs is that it works seamlessly with other applications. So if you have an existing application and want to include integration with another platform, you can use REST API to implement your ideas and make your design a reality.