Lead Image © bowie15, 123RF.com

Lead Image © bowie15, 123RF.com

Developing RESTful APIs

Late Bloomer

Article from ADMIN 40/2017
By
The popularity of REST APIs has increased of late, not only on industry sites, but also in the framework of smaller projects. We explain why this is so and illustrate the fairly abstract architectural approach with a concrete example.

Almost 15 years before Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau started up the first World Wide Web (WWW) server, James E. White published the idea of the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) with Request for Comments (RFC) 707 [1] in 1976. The idea was for an RPC to allow a computer to run a function on a remote computer. Machine-to-machine communication (M2M) thus became real.

In contrast, while developing the HTTP protocol and the hypertext markup language (HTML), Berners-Lee was thinking of human users who navigate globally distributed documents – that is, the man-machine interface.

The main difference between the two architectures is how the client approaches the resources on the server. RPC requires the client to possess very specific knowledge of how to access remote resources on the server. Here, the developer needs to study the protocol specification in detail to understand the meaning of the data elements for input and output.

On the web, however, a visitor is unlikely to read the instructions for a web page before using the service, thanks to the text-based HTML format. Users intuitively conclude how to use a web page from what they see on the page itself. Machines do things differently. In M2M communication, the developer needs to define how the machine interprets the data in the form of specifications.

Back in 2000, Roy T. Fielding, in his highly readable thesis [2], called for a drive to establish the four principles of high scalability, ease of usability, extensibility, and self-descriptive hypermedia as the basis for an efficient web architecture and to implement it consistently in the form of Representational State Transfer (REST).

Machine Talk

The inventors of the WWW quickly realized that humans were not the only ones who could take advantage of the

...
Use Express-Checkout link below to read the full article (PDF).

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy ADMIN Magazine

SINGLE ISSUES
 
SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
TABLET & SMARTPHONE APPS
Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Haskell framework for the web
    The Yesod web framework includes a Haskell compiler on top of the standard web technologies, such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, with aggressive optimization and function checks for correctness.
  • Swagger and OpenAPI Specification for documents
    A REST API is especially useful for a developer if the API provider extensively documents the methods used. The Swagger tools not only semiautomatically generate an API reference, but a matching client SDK for many programming languages, as well.
  • OrientDB document and graph database
    OrientDB is a NoSQL document and graph database with a flexible data model and an elegant approach to querying.
  • A REST interface for FreeIPA
    Access to the FreeIPA identity management framework is usually handled via a graphical web interface or a command-line tool, but the framework can also be queried directly via the JSON-RPC API.
  • RESTful APIs in practice
    Internet providers often market their open interfaces as RESTful, but is this true of the APIs, especially when no standard exists? We introduce some REST providers and look at how closely their API architectures reflect the REST principle.
comments powered by Disqus