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What Is REST And Why Should You Care?

July 9, 2019

What Is REST And Why Should You Care?

So, you need to get your web service off the ground. You have a great feature that you want to share with the world, but you don’t know the best way to make it available. You’re in luck! Today we’re talking about REST. We’ll talk about what it is and why you should be interested in using it for your solution. There are a lot of different ways of going about this, but hopefully a REST solution will be at the top of your list.

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What is REST?

REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. It is an architectural style and approach to web services. One of its biggest advantages is the use of less bandwidth. It is very much suitable for use with the internet. Some may even say it is the language of the internet. It breaks down data and functions into small chunks. Each of these has its own function. They follow the HTTP protocol of GET, PUT, POST and DELETE. These are how data is retrieved (GET), how data is saved (PUT), how it is updated (POST), and subsequently removed (DELETE). REST is defined by RFC 2616.

One key area of REST is that it’s very flexible. It’s a very simplified approach on how to handle data and the functions behind them. This allows development to be quick. Little by little, code can be produced and moved into production at faster paces. It also allows for easier understanding by developers. Only needing to understand a small bit of the overall structure of an entire system allows the developer to focus on a small part without being buried in unnecessary details.

Stateless

All calls to a RESTful interface are stateless. What does this mean? Well, it means that nothing is kept between calls. The function expects a particular data format when being called. When that data is received it then does its designed work and returns an expected formatted data. This allows for reliability in calls. It also makes performance quick and scalable. Each function is maintained on its own and not reliant on other calls. This allows it to be easily changed when new things need to be added or bugs need to be fixed.

Separation of Concern

Separation of concern from client and server. Say what? Web service consists of the server side, that is, all the functionality of the system. There is also the requester of the web service which is the client side. This can be browsers, mobile apps, or even other web services. Neither side knows what is happening on the other’s respective side. This allows for changing of code on either side to be much easier to do. The key is to maintain the data format expected and returned.

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Why Should You Care?

As we move forward to more and more cloud based technologies, there is a necessity on usage of HTTP calls to these services. Many of these are RESTful in their own right. Creating your services via a cloud solution will force you to choose some sort of path. As opposed to SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), REST is much smaller and easier to implement. There is also no set way of doing REST and there is quite a bit of flexibility.

An important part of any company’s software work is that it doesn’t take too long to build. REST allows for quick implementations. Simplified blocks of code make development simple and easy. Maintainability is also simplified. The compartmentalized aspect can allow for changes to happen while still allowing everything else to continue to run. The downtime of your services will be minimal or even non-existent.

Conclusion

If you are planning to offer your web services to the public, you need to take REST into consideration. You can see here how it can cut down on development time. It is very reliable. It simplifies the work that needs to be done. REST can allow for new features and changes easily. Frankly, it’s the way that the cloud and internet in general is going. So get ready to dive in and REST. Contact us here with all of your REST questions and how it can benefit your company.

Matt McCandless
Consulting Software Engineer

Matt McCandless is a consulting software engineer and writer in Wichita. He is skilled in Java, Integration, Javascript, SQL and Requirements Analysis.

Matt McCandless
Consulting Software Engineer

Matt McCandless is a consulting software engineer and writer in Wichita. He is skilled in Java, Integration, Javascript, SQL and Requirements Analysis.

2019-07-09T22:08:24-05:00

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