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What is Rest API? Features, Principles, And Challenges

26th Apr, 2024
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    What is Rest API? Features, Principles, And Challenges

    Sharing data between systems is more critical than ever in this age of interconnections. An eCommerce website that lacks integration in today's market is unimaginable. In addition to managing product listings, your site would need to develop facilities for payment processing, shipping, email automation, user accounts, and other services on its own. It is not a scalable approach; instead, outsourcing these activities to other providers.

    To communicate, software applications use Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. APIs allow two programs to share data consistently. Your eCommerce site may connect with payment software, shipping software, and other essential integrations via their APIs. There are several techniques for developing an API, but if you want to integrate software into your product, you need to know what is REST API. KnowledgeHut's Programming Certification will define REST API and explain why they're helpful. 

    History of Rest API

    There was no agreement on how to develop or use an API before 2000. Protocols like  Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which were notoriously difficult to build, administer, and debug, were required for its integration.

    APIs were then developed to be adaptive rather than accessible. After realizing the true potential of Web APIs in 2000, things started to shift: Roy Fielding and a team of experts created Representational State Transfer or REST, irreversibly altering the API landscape. The objective was to create a standard that would allow two servers to communicate and exchange data from anywhere in the world.  As a result, they created REST, a resource-oriented architecture that includes the following concepts, attributes, and constraints:

    • Interface uniformity 
    • Client/server architecture 
    • No state or session retention 
    • Resource representation caching 
    • Usage of the HTTP protocol and its methods 

    Although there were numerous regulations, the majority of them were universal. Therefore, APIs had to be essential and make integration much more accessible.

    What is Rest API?
    Rest API Architecture

    It is an architectural design that outlines guidelines for developing Web Services. In a client-server connection, REST recommends creating an object of the data requested by the client and sending the object's values back to the user.

    For example, if a user requests a movie in Bangalore at a specific time and location, you may construct an object on the server side. So, you have an item transmitting its status over here. REST's architectural style aids in utilizing reduced bandwidth to make an application more acceptable for the internet. It is sometimes referred to as the "internet language" and depends entirely on resources. Now that you know what REST API stands for, let us proceed to comprehend the significance of REST API. 

    How does the Rest API work?

    REST APIs employ HTTP requests to communicate with databases to do routine tasks like creating, reading, updating, and deleting entries (also known as CRUD) within a resource. For example, a REST API may use a GET request to get a record, a POST request to create one, a PUT request to update one, and a Destroy request to remove one. One can make API queries using any HTTP method. A well-designed REST API is similar to a website that runs in a web browser and supports HTTP.

    Its resource represents the resource at any particular moment or date. This data may be sent to a client in almost any format, including HTML, XLT, Python, PHP, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), or plain text. JSON is popular because it is understandable by both people and machines and is independent of programming languages. KnowledgeHut's Python Programming course will help you elaborately understand what REST API is.

    Features of Rest API
    Features of API

    We have understood what is Rest API, and how it works. Now, we will see the features of Rest API. 

    • Scalability: Development teams may quickly scale the solution due to the separation of client and server.  
    • Flexibility & Portability: Data from one of the queries must be accurate for REST-style APIs; thus, it is conceivable to transition from one server to another. It is also possible to alter the database at any moment.  
    • Independence: Through the isolation of the client and server, the protocol allows for autonomous development across a project. REST APIs are also adaptive to the working syntax and platform, enabling you to test many environments simultaneously while building.    

    Principles of Rest API

    1. Client-Server decoupling

    In a REST API design, client and server programs must be independent. The client software should only know the URI of the requested resource; it should have no additional interaction with the server application. 

    2. Uniform Interface

    All API queries for the same resource should look the same regardless of where they come from. The REST API should ensure that similar data, such as a user's name or email address, is assigned to just one uniform resource identifier (URI). 

    3. Statelessness

    REST APIs are stateless, meaning each request must contain all the information needed to process it. 

    4. Layered System architecture

    REST API requests and responses are routed through many tiers. REST APIs must be designed so neither the client nor the server can tell whether they communicate with the final application or an intermediary.  

    5. Cacheable

    Wherever feasible, resources should be cacheable on the client or server side. Server responses must additionally indicate if caching is authorized for the offered assistance. The objective is to boost client-side speed while enhancing server-side scalability.  

    6. Code on Demand

    REST APIs typically provide static resources, but in rare cases, responses may include executable code (such as Java applets). In these cases, perform the code when necessary.

    Methods of Rest API

    REST determines the structure of an API. Therefore, developers must follow a set of guidelines when building an API. One piece of regulation, for example, requires that pointing to a URL contains specific information. Every URL is known as a Request, and the data returned is known as a Response. The REST API breaks down a transaction into its constituent parts. Each component is responsible for a particular side of marketing. It is a flexible development technique due to its modularity. REST API uses HTTP methods defined in the RFC 2616 standard. It employs the HTTP requests listed below:

    1. GET

    The most popular HTTP method, GET, returns a representative view of the information and data contained in a resource. For data security and resource idempotence, the Use of GET should only be in read-only mode. If another client hasn't changed this technique in the interim, you should always obtain the same results regardless of how many times you use it. 

    2. POST

    POST is the sole HTTP method for RESTful APIs that focuses on resource collections. Applying POST to the parent resource causes it to build a new resource, add it to the correct hierarchy, and return a specific URL for future use for establishing a subordinate resource in a collection. However, remember that POST is not idempotent; you cannot repeatedly employ this technique and anticipate a consistent result.

    3. PUT 

    The PUT command modifies a resource by completely replacing its content, making it the single-resource counterpart of POST. As a result, PUT is the most popular technique for updating resource data in a RESTful API. 

    4. PATCH

    Another HTTP method for updating resources is PATCH. PATCH alters resource contents instead of replacing resources, like the PUT method. These updates should often be conveyed using a common format, such as JSON or XML. 

    5. DELETE 

    DELETE is the final HTTP method to look at. Targeting a single resource with a DELETE method results in the complete deletion of that resource.

    Implementations of DELETE are frequently a little inconsistent: If you remove the URL for the resource, it can still be accessible. In this case, it's probable that the server or resource implementation will still alter the status of the deleted resource using the URL and will probably respond differently to subsequent DELETE requests.

    Challenges of using Rest API

    1. REST endpoint consensus: It makes little difference how you style your URLs, but consistency across your API is essential. Unfortunately, as procedures get more complicated, the number of possible possibilities grows even more significant. As a result, consistency on huge codebases with multiple developers can be challenging.  
    2. REST API versioning: APIs are frequently versioned to avoid compatibility difficulties. However, old endpoints remain alive, increasing effort due to the maintenance of numerous APIs. 
    3. REST API authentication: API authentication will differ based on the circumstance. It treats the third-party programs as logged-in users with specified privileges and permissions. Registered users can also utilize third-party programs to access their data, such as searching for emails or documents. 
    4. REST API Security: Even though RESTful APIs make it easier to access and change your application, security vulnerabilities might arise. A client, for example, can submit hundreds of requests per second and destroy your server. 
    5. Multiple Requests and Unnecessary Data: A response may contain more information than you require or require additional queries to get all the data. 

    Rest API Examples

    Now that you are clear about REST API's meaning, let us know what REST API examples are. 

    • Twitter: Twitter API permits third-party applications to access and write data from Twitter. Write and post tweets, share tweets, and read profiles using it. This API is handy for obtaining and analyzing massive quantities of tweets regarding certain subjects.  
    • Instagram: The Instagram Basic Display API provides access to user profiles, images, and videos. You may use this API and others to create applications that pull user data and integrate it into your product. Instagram also provides a Graph API for professional Instagram accounts to manage online activity. 
    • Spotify: Spotify's web API lets customers obtain information about artists, songs, albums, and playlists on the Spotify platform. You may also use it to create playlists, stop and play music, shuffle tracks, and do various other things. 
    • HubSpot: All of HubSpot's APIs follow REST principles and are built for comprehensive integrations to help organizations get the most out of HubSpot's products. You can extend HubSpot's sophisticated marketing software with additional features and link your HubSpot account with other valuable applications.


    This article taught us about what is REST, API, and RESTful API principles. We've looked at REST API, what REST API is used for, and how to use it. REST API interaction methods are a pretty comprehensive notion with no explicit specifications. Finally, we discovered that REST API is an architectural style employed for component interactions rather than a standard in and of itself. We advocate a further in-depth investigation of REST API JSON and REST API GraphQL techniques and their use in practice for future studies. UpGrad KnowledgeHut's extensive Java Programming courses can help you achieve great mileage in understanding REST API with practical implications.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the use of REST API?

    A RESTful API is an architectural approach for an application program interface (API) that accesses and utilizes data via HTTP requests. It may use that data to GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE data, which correspond to reading, modifying, creating, and removing resource-related activities. 

    2What is the difference between REST API and API?

    REST (Representational State Transfer) is the API that uses a set of rules to communicate between applications and servers. 

    3What is the URL in REST API?

    An API URL Path is a URL that allows you to access an API's numerous functionalities. Using one is as easy as entering any URL into your web browser.

    4How to design a REST API?

    The most common methods to design are GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. 

    5What is the difference between SOAP and REST API?

    SOAP solely utilizes XML for sharing information in its message format, but REST is not limited to XML and allows the implementer to choose which Media-Type to use, such as XML, JSON, or plain text. Furthermore, whereas REST may utilize the SOAP protocol, SOAP cannot use REST. 


    Ramulu Enugurthi

    Blog Author

    Ramulu Enugurthi, a distinguished computer science expert with an M.Tech from IIT Madras, brings over 15 years of software development excellence. Their versatile career spans gaming, fintech, e-commerce, fashion commerce, mobility, and edtech, showcasing adaptability in multifaceted domains. Proficient in building distributed and microservices architectures, Ramulu is renowned for tackling modern tech challenges innovatively. Beyond technical prowess, he is a mentor, sharing invaluable insights with the next generation of developers. Ramulu's journey of growth, innovation, and unwavering commitment to excellence continues to inspire aspiring technologists.

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