What are RESTful APIs?Dec 22, 2022
What's a RESTful API?
The term sounds fancy and very technical, but it's really just a set of rules for how to design an API and what it should look like. You can think of it like how in order for a poem to be labeled a Haiku, it has to follow a specific set of rules. Same concept, very different applications.
RESTful APIs are called RESTful because they follow the architectural style of Representational State Transfer (REST). REST is just a set of constraints for designing web services that focus on a system's resources.
One of the main benefits of using a RESTful API is that it allows for easy communication between different systems since it's based on the standard HTTP protocol (yes, the same http you see at the beginning of web addresses). There are other internet protocols out there that are a lot more complicated and hard to read (like SOAP) compared to the HTTP protocol.
Here are just a few of the rules an API must follow in order to be considered "RESTful":- Requests contain an endpoint URL- Includes an HTTP method (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE)- Responses include a HTTP status code (200 OK, 400 Bad Request, 401 Unauthorized, etc..)
What do I need to know as a non-engineer?
Don't worry about not understanding every detail of what a RESTful API is, most devs couldn't even tell you. Unless a developer specifically mentions SOAP for some reason, you would never know an API is a SOAP API, and even if you did, it's not relevant information to your job (unless the product you work on is an API product).
Just know that most modern APIs are RESTful APIs and have a general understanding of what it means when someone mentions RESTful APIs (set of rules for how to design an API and what it should look like). More importantly, you should just know what APIs and protocols are. If you had trouble following this section, you might want to enroll in the Skiplevel course where we cover it all, or do your own internet sleuthing.
Read more in-depth about RESTful APIs here.
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