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What is a REST API?

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Representational State Transfer or RESTful API is termed as stateless architectural principle relying upon standard web transport protocol, URL, or HTTP to share data between web applications or web services.

Unlike other API protocols like SOAP or XML/JSON-RPC which are restricted to languages, REST APIs are not bound to any specific language and respond to clients in JSON, python, or human-readable text. RESTful web services are utilized to avail any content, media, digital resources via URLs and do not have to rely on XML to provide responses from web servers as they induce simple and uniform interfaces.

Application Programming Interfaces or APIs are widely used across the development of web-based applications as they have become the mainstream for application-to-application connectivity in terms of data, a library, or even a complete interface. The web services such as SOAP, REST, Web Service Description Language (WSDL) specifications have taken web-based applications to a whole new level. 

REST APIs are the most integrated specification and were introduced by Roy Fielding in 2000. The reason for the popularity of REST API is that it utilizes existing web protocols and there is no need to define the protocols to operate.

How does REST API work?

OPEN APIs ensure the standard in the development of REST-oriented applications as an API requires the declaration of security methods, API endpoints, and HTTP status messages with its assistance. And because of this, every service regarding API is based on resources i.e., the client-server information is accessible to the client with authentication made by the client. The resource or information is cached for faster performance. Uniformity is also a standard for RESTFUL API as resources should possess uniqueness so that they can be distinguished in a URL.

Moreover, the components of REST architecture are in a format of interconnected layers with no information of other components in a web service. Lastly, it executes scripts in both machines as well as human-readable languages, such as JSON. REST typically works by requesting the resource to return information from the application server in a readable format. These APIs utilize HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PULL, DELETE and PATCH to create, retrieve, edit, or delete any resource.

What are the benefits of using REST APIs?

REST APIs are scalable, portable, modifiable, and reliable for distributed applications such as web services, mobile services, or other open enterprise applications. Due to tangible architecture and availability in different and readable formats, REST APIs edge over other architectures. Furthermore, REST is ideal for the latest technologies in telecommunication, Internet of Things (IoT), and server-less computation.

They use lesser bandwidth and are faster due to JSON language interpretation and provide performance through caching the unaltered data or information. 

However, REST APIs do face some setbacks including security lacks, strict architectural constraints, and is limited to HTTP protocol only.

Closing thoughts

REST APIs are equally integral in terms of both development and business. They are intended to allow enterprises to bypass the complexities of an API’s semantics.

Macrometa's ready-to-go industry solutions can help accelerate API time-to-market for new integrations or monetization opportunities, and provide consistent, high performance and scalability.

Related reading:

The Secret to Fast APIs: Unlocking Business Acceleration


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