API… Being a developer what comes to your mind first when you listen to this word…
JSON, Endpoints, Postman, CRUD, Curl, HTTP, Status Code, Request, Response, Authentication, or something else…
If you’re familiar with the above word then surely you might have worked on some kinds of APIs (especially those who are experienced developers) in your backend application. Maybe a payment gateway API, Google Maps API, Sending an Email APIs, or any other kind of APIs depending on the type of application and the requirements.
Implementing an API might be a daunting task for you if you’re an entry-level developer. You are asked to implement an XYZ API, but you have no idea where to start the implementation. What exactly you need to follow and what things you need to do in order to get your job done. You will encounter a lot of unfamiliar concepts in API when you will start working on it.
The most popular and common thing you will hear while working on API is…
What it is? Why is it being used? Why it is the first priority of programmers when it comes to implementing an API? Many questions will pop up in your mind when you will start working on REST API.
Implementing an API is fun once you grasp the concept of it and once you get to know the benefits of using it and how to work on it. In your development career, you will surely work on REST APIs for web services.
But why REST? Why did you choose REST APIs to implement in your project (if you have already worked it)? Why are you choosing it for your next project (If you’re planning to choose it)? Why not other web services APIs such as SOAP, XML-RPC, etc.
Because it is so popular?? Because most of the programmers are using it?
If the above line is your answer then surely another question we will put here… Why REST is so popular? What are its characteristics or benefits?
Always remember that in software development you need to find a reason for anything you choose in your project. Whether it’s a framework, a language, or a specific trend. What’s the benefit you will get? What issues will be resolved? What role XYZ technology will play in your project? etc.
It’s really important to understand why you’re learning something or why you’re using something in your project? In this blog, we will talk about the benefits of REST APIs and as we have already discussed that it is popular among programmers when it comes to implementing an API in a project. Let’s discuss what REST can bring to the table…??
A Short Introduction of REST
REST stands for representational state transfer. Basically, it’s an architectural style for designing networked applications. REST relies on a stateless, client-server protocol and in almost all cases it’s going to be HTTP. Initially, programmers were relying on SOAP to implement the API in web services but in recent years REST has becomes the choice of programmers due to its simplicity and scalability.
REST was made to treat objects on the server-side as resources that can be created, updated, and deleted. REST can be used by virtually any programming language. Let’s discuss the benefits of using REST.
What’s the Cool Thing About REST?
Here we will discuss why it’s important to learn REST and why you should care about it? What’s the benefit of implementing it in your backend project.
1. Easy to Learn and Implement
REST uses HTTP methods for communication and most of us are familiar with the HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT or DELETE.
These methods are self-explanatory that what it does (in case if you don’t know these terms) and that makes REST easy to learn.
Talking about the architecture, REST is based on the client-server architecture where the client is completely separated from the server. This coolest feature allows the developer’s team to work on both ends independently, You do not have to worry about what has been coded on the client-side or how the server is put together. This feature gives the opportunity to work on several projects related to development.
REST API is responsible for the communication between both of them. It becomes super easy for the developers to display the information on the client-side and store or manipulate the data on the server-side. This helps in increasing the productivity of the developers. Also, the team works more efficiently.
So if you’re familiar with the HTTP and client-server architecture then you can easily understand the REST API and you can easily implement it in your project.
This is one of the best features that makes REST stands out when compared to others. Separation of client and server in REST architecture allows the developers to scale apps more easily. Let’s look at the two more reasons that make your app scalable if it uses REST API.
Stateless: This is one of the unique features of REST. It is stateless on the server-side which means the server doesn’t store any of the previous requests or responses. Each request will be processed and served independently, and it won’t have to do anything with the previous one.
Consider the example of an application where you have implemented some authentication features. This logic is implemented on the concept of the session. For every logged-in user, a session is stored. The session data will be bloated easily if it will start occupying the resources on the server.
In the case of a stateless server, there is no need to occupy the resources while handling the request. Resources will be released as soon as the request will be processed.
Today, in most applications horizontal scaling (especially on the cloud) is being preferred. Your application stores the server-side sessions and that creates a lot of difficult problems. This makes your application hard to scale.
Consider an example, in your application, there are many servers behind the load balancer. Now suppose a client occupies server 1 for the first request. Later it occupies server 2 for another request due to the load on server 1. Now the server 2 doesn’t know anything about the previous session data which was stored on server 1. Don’t you think that this makes your application difficult to scale? Surely it is…hope you got our point that how REST helps in scaling your application efficiently.
Faster Data Interchange Format: This is another great advantage of using REST. In REST APIs JSON format is used to interchange the data. In comparison to XML, JSON is smaller in size and is much more compact. Also, it can be parsed faster than XML.
REST APIs can also be used in different formats by making use of the Accept header.
We all want to boost the performance of the web application. Caching plays a crucial role in sending back a faster response to the user. If you’re making the same request several times then you don’t need to get the data from the server multiple times. You can easily cache the data and quickly get the response from the cache memory.
Basically, cache save the data for the future so that it can be returned faster when the client makes the same request in the future. Caching reduce the load on the server that helps in decreasing the average response time.
REST is stateless where each request is processed individually. Implementing the REST API makes caching easier. You can easily cache the GET and POST request. GET usually returns the same response and POST can be cacheable by using Cache-Control and Expires headers.
4. Flexibility and Portability
In REST, it is easy to update the data in the database at any moment. It gives the flexibility to answer many clients asking for different data types (XML, JSON, and so on). All you just need to do is to request the data types using the Accept header. REST will return the response depending on the specified data types.
Also, you can easily transfer the data from one server to another server. It also allows you to hosts the back and front end on different servers.
HATEOAS which is one of the great mechanisms of REST API gives a lot of flexibility to the user. Using the HATEOAS in REST gives the flexibility to change the endpoints. Read more about it from the link HATEOAS and Why It’s Needed in RESTful API?
All these huge advantages make REST flexible and portable.
This article clearly explains that why you should give value to the REST APIs. It covers the most common advantages of using REST API which is quite enough to understand that why you should use REST standard in your application.
REST reduces the complexity of the application and things become easier for the developers. You can easily manage the resources with few operations. Hope it was helpful.