RESTful Web APIs
Client / Server: The Clients aren't generally storing databases, doing
huge calculations, or sharing data between clients, the servers aren't tasked
with user interface or keeping track of client information (other than
Stateless: We don't require the server to remember anything about
the client. e.g. no client specific Application data stored on the server.
The client must send all the data required to identify it's needs with each
request. This makes authentication a bit tricky as it must be done for each
Uniform: The interface between the client and server is well documented
and doesn't change.
The base URI should provide a list of hyperlinked action URI's exposed by
the server. E.g. In a web service managing IOT devices, one link might provide
a list of devices, another link provides data given the ID of one device,
another a way to add a new device or removing an existing one.
Any needed resource is referenced in the request, usually by URI. The resource
is not the representation. E.g. access to a database on the server might
be via http://api.mydomain.com/devices and the data returned might be a list
of known devices in XML, JSON, or even plain text.
The data returned must provide enough information for the client to be able
to act on that resource. For example, the ID of the device should be included
in the device list returned, so that the client can request additional data
about that device. Or request the device be removed. The data format should
be specified in the media type.
The representation of the data must include descriptions. E.g. XML typically
is self describing. A pure text response would not be appropriate without
some sort of header, unless it was a single column list. JSON is also an
excellent example of self describing data.
Standard HTTP methods (GET, PUT, POST, DELETE) are used.
GET never changing anything, it just requests data.
PUT and DELETE return no information (other than status) about the data,
they only take action. Also, they should not be incremental; they should
do the same single operation no matter how many times they are called. E.g.
there is no "delete next 1 record" command, there is only a "delete record
number #" command. You can't PUT a request to add a new item without a unique
ID. You can GET a unique id for a new item, then PUT that item to the database.
Requests can be cashed and repeated. If "fresh" data is required, some means
of making a new request should be included. E.g. if you need to know if the
database has changed within some specific time, include the time in the request.
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