People, who are new to development often have this question about how to design a functioning REST-API? The API designer methodology may differ from one developer to the other and even from one company to the next. However, for as long as you understand the underlying principle of using the HTTP protocol, the only other thing you need to be good at is using data modeling. In this article, we will outline a simplified version of the design process of a REST API.
The Relation Between HTTP and REST
REST is best suited for developers who have good data modeling skills. Apparently, REST needs to be based on using numerous resources that follow a particular type of data model.
The internet and all communications on it are based on the HTTP protocol. For instance, each time your browser sends a request to the web server, it receives a response in the form of an HTTP request. So, without HTTP they can’t be any queries. Also, HTTP is used to manipulate resources on the server like:
- The list of unavailable or available resources
- Deleting Resources
- Creating new resources with a unique URL
- Returning a webpage that was requested by the URL
The resources we have listed above can be anything from content on a website to objects like lights, a nuclear reactor or an encrypted database. The thing about using the HTTP protocol is that every object or item online has a URL and uses a set of commands to control those items. So, ‘R’ in RESTful is for Resource.
REST-API Designer Methodology
In order for an enterprise to be connected or digital, it has to start with having a valid HTTP server. The REST-API happens to be the primary channel through which everything on the internet communicates. Interestingly designing high quality, useful REST-API is comparatively straightforward if you follow the patterns below:
- REST-APIs work to expose server resources making it easy to be accessed as well as manipulated by clients via that API. The API needs to be adequately modeled using a robust data model. If anything, the data model is a sort of metaphor through which clients tend to connect with the API directly. The model tends to have both physical and logical resources along with their required associations.
- The following step is to ensure that every resource used by the model is exposed to the World Wide Web is mapped via a URL. The URL has to reflect the relationship with each resource with the other.
- The manipulations also need to be assigned to various HTTP commands like GET, DELETE, PUT,etc.
- Request formats also need to be created which are valid for all the required entries of the model.
- Finally, the URL used has to be protected using encryption and user authentication.
Quick and Easy Example
Let’s say that an insurance company has an API which exposes resources like claims, policies,and customers,etc. A home hooked up to the internet would expose resources like lights, alarms, solar panels, temperature sensors,etc. Similarly, a mathematical software will exposeessential resources like calculations, inputs,and algorithms. Though each one will have a unique set of URLs.
REST-APIs and The Future
Above are just a couple of live examples of an extremely simplified version of a RESTful API and how it works. However, the manipulation, commands,andmodelingare just the tip of a very large ice burg we call the REST-API. Though it is without a doubt,it is the essential one to master especially since it is a huge part of even the most complex software development projects.