Rest API is an Application Programming Interface (API) which is designed for developers to make HTTP requests to perform specific tasks.
Rest APIs are based on Representational State Transfer (REST) concept that makes it easy to understand and be used by any developer in any programming language. RESTful web services can be defined as “web-based services that are used to deliver the information using RESTful protocol over HTTP.
The most popular of all is Google’s Gmail, which provides users with basic email functionality through a web-based interface or an email client application. However, no one can deny the fact that on reaching its tenth anniversary, hundreds of thousands of developers have built various third-party applications for Gmail to offer users with the same experience but in different ways.
This is just one example of how rest APIs are being utilized by developers to create different web-based services based on RESTful protocol over HTTP. There are thousands of applications available today that offers you mail functionality, which has been developed using Google’s Gmail’s Rest API.
A Brief History
Every decent history should have a beginning and the same is true for this article as well. Rest APIs were first introduced by Roy Fielding in 2000 for computer network related to distributed systems (i.e.: World Wide Web/Internet). It was then adopted by other companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and other major technology companies.
Apparently, all these services that we think of as amazing features of a website or web application have been designed to provide the user with an API service for their needs. For example, PayPal API can be used by developers to collect money from any endpoint (i.e.: mobile device) using it’s Rest API.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Rest APIs?
There are multiple reasons why you should always prefer using a Rest API over other technologies to build an application, for example:
Rest APIs are being used by developers to create applications in any programming language. They can be easily accessed through HTTP requests that help users to reduce the time and efforts.
Let’s have a look at some of the major benefits that Rest APIs provide:
- Support for Multiple platforms – Rest API works on any platform, be it iOS, Android or anything else. It can also be used with cloud based services to deliver desired results. They are language agnostic too, meaning you can use them in your preferred code editor.
- Flexibility – rest APIs provide developers with total freedom to explore and implement their skills in any way they want to. It’s completely up to the user how they access the services, be it through HTTP requests or SDKs/libraries that can be used with an application.
- High Performance – Unlike other technologies, you don’t need to install low level APIs on your computer or mobile device. Using Rest API’s you can directly communicate with the server that has the required information and data of an application.
- Support for Authentication – Most applications (web/mobile) require authentication before accessing any services, rest APIs make it easy for developers to deal with these security issues. Today, there are multiple authentication modules available for different platforms that can be integrated into an application to offer better security services.
- Easy To Deploy – Rest APIs provide developers with the best way to “Save Time” and deploy their code in quick time, which is not possible using other technologies like SOAP APIs.
- Better Security – Rest API’s offer better security, which can be included in an application using different authentication modules. Since most of them provide users with automatic SSL (Secure Socket Layer), rest API’s offers better and reliable security and data transfer
- Support for Multiple Data Formats – This is one of the major advantages of Rest APIs, since they make it easy for developers to use or integrate different data formats like XML, JSON and CSV. This helps users in reducing the time and efforts for designing an application as most of them support multiple data models/format which can be used by developers as per their needs.
- Client Libraries – Since Rest APIs provide better services than other technologies, they always come with client libraries that can be used by users to implement desired features in an application. You can find many high level Rest APIs’s with different client libraries that are being used by developers all over the world for their web/mobile applications.
- Metadata – If you have ever worked with a Rest API, you must know about one thing called “Metadata”. It is a way for developers to gain access to information about an application. In simple words, it’s a collection of data that shows user details like authentication details, code version and many other things.
- Vast documentation – Rest APIs come with vast documentation that helps users in learning how they can use them or what types of services they can include in an application. In case of any issue, developers can use the documentation to get more details about a particular Rest API that helps them in finding a solution quickly.
As we have seen above, there are numerous benefits of using a Rest APIs for web/mobile applications. They improve developer’s productivity and provide them with better security options so that they can focus more on business logic and implementation. It’s not possible for developers to ignore such technologies as most of them offer better service than other options available today.