One of the most important things to keep in mind about RESTful design is that it is meant to take advantage of all the existing protocols of the internet. When deciding on an API design tool for RESTful design, it is important to pick one that’s flexible and allows you to adhere to all the best practices. You’ll also want one that takes advantage of existing protocol resources so that developers that use the API are not required to install libraries or even software for each type of API they want to use. Plus, you’ll also want to us hypermedia where necessary to change the API structurally.
SOAP or REST – Which is Better?
Back in the 90s and early 2000’s SOAP was the API design choice for all developers. The technology still exists today as many legacy APIs that are in use today but were designed with SOAP. However, where SOAP didn’t fare well was in the flexibility department, and that’s where REST took off. REST enables faster, smaller and more flexible APIs to be developed that meet the needs of just about every type of client. Also, REST isn’t only limited to XML the way SOAP is, and so you can use JSON or YAML whichever you choose.
RESTful Design Major Drawbacks
All technologies have pros and cons, so REST isn’t any different. RESTful APIs have a set of cons that some developers may find inconvenient for instance, it is unable to hold on to a state when it is in the REST-like state during a session. Also, beginners will find implementing REST APIs to be more complicated. Then there is also the fact that there are many limitations associated with RESTful APIs and so you need to keep these constraints in mind when building an API.
The low point of RESTful API design is that it assumes that the server and client are different entities and so they evolve differently and independently. So, that means you can’t make changes to any mobile application without it directly affecting the structure of the data on the server. Yet you can modify the database to make changes to the application, and it will not affect the mobile device. However, the purpose of these constraints is to create separation which enables applications to grow independently.
RESTful APIs can be Stateless
RESTful APIs are meant to be pretty much stateless which is why they should be able to make calls which are independent of each other and so everyone can complete their task successfully. The good thing about REST APIs is they will not rely on data that are stored across a session or server to understand what a call is doing but instead reads the data within every call. So, every call needs to have that data within itself like a user ID, token, key, etc. Now, this type of routine helps to improve reliability since all that’s required is to issue a call instead of sending out a long series of calls over to the server if there is an object that has to be created since it can result in failure. It also makes scalability possible while reducing memory requirements since the APIs store the state on the client and not the server.
The Use of a Cache
Using stateless APIs have an increased overhead when it comes to handling requests both in and outbound, the API should be designed with a cache in mind. When that data is cached, it is stored for a specific time, and real-time data is not cached. However, the results of caching are reduced interaction time and load on the server. Yet users of the API experience better speeds with efficiently developed apps.