Overview of RESTful API
A REST API (also known as a RESTful API) is an application programming interface (API or Web API) that follows the REST architecture specifications and supports interaction with RESTful web services. REST stands for Representational State Transfer, initially proposed by computer scientist Roy Fielding.
What Is API
An API is a combination of definitions and protocols used to build and integrate application software. You can think of an API as a contract between the information producer and the information consumer (user) - the consumer requests (calls) the required content, and the producer responds with the required content. For example, a weather service API could specify that the user provides a postal code, and its response is composed of two parts - the high temperature and the low temperature.
In other words, if we want to interact with a computer or system to retrieve information or perform a function, APIs can help us convey the required information to the system to make it understand and respond to the corresponding request.
You can think of APIs as intermediaries between users, clients, the resources they want, or web services. They are also a way for businesses to share resources and information while ensuring security, access control, and identity verification. They can help determine who can access what content.
Another advantage of APIs is that we do not need to know the specific details of caching, i.e., how to obtain resources or their sources.
How to Understand the Meaning of Rest
REST is a set of architecture specifications, not protocol developers can implement REST in various ways.
When a client makes a request through a RESYful API, it transmits the representation of the resource state to the requestor or terminal. This information or representation is transmitted in one of several formats
Note: If you want to send an HTTP request that follows the RESTful style, the request headers and parameters are equally important because they contain important identifying information such as request metadata, authorization, Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI), cache, cookies, etc. Each request and response header has its own HTTP connection information and status code.
How to Implement RESTful API
A RESTful API must follow the following rules:
- The client-server architecture consists of clients, servers, and resources, and requests are managed through HTTP.
- Stateless client-server communication means that no client information is stored during the interval between GET requests, and each request is independent and unrelated.
- Cacheable data simplifies client-server interactions.
- A unified interface between components standardizes information transmission. The requirements are as follows:
- The requested resource is identifiable and separate from the representation sent to the client.
- The client can operate resources through the received representation because the representation contains enough information for the operation.
- The self-descriptive message returned to the client contains sufficient information to indicate how the client should handle the received information.
- Hyperlinks/hypermedia are available, meaning that after accessing resources, the client should be able to use hyperlinks to find all other available operations.
- A layered system of various types of servers (servers responsible for security, load balancing, etc.) participates in retrieving requested information into hierarchies invisible to the client.
- On-demand coding (optional) can send executable code from the server to the client based on the request to extend client functionality.
Although REST APIs need to adhere to certain standards, it is still easier than following prescribed protocols such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), which has specific requirements such as XML message transmission, built-in security, and transactional compliance, making it slower and more cumbersome.
In contrast, REST is a set of guidelines that can be implemented on demand, making REST APIs faster, lighter, and more scalable, making it particularly suitable for Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile application development.
Best API development Tool (Recommended)
Those familiar with REST API design and testing should know that designing APIs involves many aspects, from data structures to testing to error handling to documentation. All members of the team are working around API documentation, and we are using more and more API tools: Swagger defines APIs; Postman debugs APIs; Jmeter tests APIs. If you need to simulate data, you must also set up a simulation server and write some Faker.js. These operations are too cumbersome, and we have to repeatedly copy and paste between various software, making software developers unable to focus on their own tasks. Now there is a free tool that can take care of all this: Apidog.
Apidog is an integrated tool for interface management, development, and testing, positioning Postman + Swagger + Mock + JMeter. By using a system and a set of data, it solves the problem of data synchronization between multiple systems.
Once the interface document is defined, the interface debugging, data mock, and interface testing can be directly used without redefinition. The interface document and the interface development and debugging use the same tool, and after the interface debugging is completed, it can be ensured to be completely consistent with the interface document definition.