REST vs RESTFUL APIs: 6 Key Differences

on API, REST API, Web APIs • October 28th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

REST API is one of the most commonly used APIs in the web development community. There is only a fine line that differentiates REST vs RESTful APIs. It is really essential to know the meaning and use of these APIs before working on hands. This topic is a must-know for all the developers in this community to understand the modern state of client/server architecture. Considering the debate on REST vs RESTful APIs, it can be stated that “REST is the noun while RESTful is the adjective”.

In this blog, you will be introduced to APIs, REST APIs, and RESTful APIs. You will understand the basic and key differences in the REST vs RESTful battle. The CRUD operations and Endpoints of REST RESTful APIs will be explained. The future of these APIs is elaborated.

Table of contents

Prerequisites

  • Understanding of HTTP and Web Services.

What is an API?

REST vs RESTful: API logo
Image Source: cleveroad

Application Programming Interface, abbreviated as API, enables connection between computers or computer programs. It is a Software Interface that offers services to other software to enhance the required functionalities. Over the past few years, API has gained popularity in the market for almost every web application. For instance, each time you check the weather or book a travel ticket on your smartphone, an API is called at the backend.

As API enables businesses to open their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, it eventually grows business partnerships, driving more revenue.

Need for an API

Given below are some of the reasons why APIs are used within organizations:

  1. Automation– Automation accelerates API testing, thereby increasing efficiency. Not only does API glues the digital world with its dynamic nature, but it also allows companies to become more agile by automating workflows.
  2. Integration– Integration of platforms and applications can be done using API to leverage seamless communication. Without APIs, enterprises lacked connectivity, which proportionally reduced productivity and performance. Integrating systems allows the movement of data, facilitating companies to automate workflows and improve workplace collaboration.
  3. Efficiency– Efficiency increases with decreasing human intervention. Providing API access prevents duplication of content, offering greater flexibility for companies to spend time in quality innovation.
  4. Security– Security is an additional benefit because API supplements an extra layer of protection between your data and server. However, developers can strengthen their security by using tokens, signatures, and transport layer security (TLS) encryption.

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What is REST API?

REST vs RESTful: REST API Diagram
Image Source: astera

REST API stands for REpresentational State Transfer API. It is an API that follows a set of rules for an application and services to communicate with each other. REST API abides by the following rules:

  1. Statelessness: Systems aligning with the REST paradigm are bound to become stateless. A constraint is applied by using resources instead of commands, and they are nouns of the web that describe any object, document, or thing to store/send to other resources.
  2. Cacheable: Cache helps servers to mitigate some constraints of statelessness. It is a critical factor that has improved the performance of modern web applications. Caching not only enhances the performance on the client-side but also scales significant results on the server-side.
  3. Decoupled: REST is a distributed approach, where client and server applications are decoupled from each other. Irrespective of where the requests are initiated, the only information the client application knows is the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the requested resource.
  4. Layered: A Layered system makes a REST architecture scalable. As REST API is layered, it should be designed such that neither Client nor Server identifies its communication with end applications or an intermediary.

What is RESTful API?

Image Source: chilmarkresearch

The RESTful API is an Application Programming Interface(API) that obeys the REST architecture constraints and interacts with RESTful web services.
The RESTful API also follows the principles of REST API. RESTful APIs are more scalable and have a longer lifespan. The RESTful API uses HTTP requests to access and use data. REST API and RESTful APIs are one and the same with minute differences.

Basic Differences between REST vs RESTful API

In the context of REST vs RESTful API, the basic differences between them are elaborated in the tables below.

AttributesREST APIRESTful API
DefinitionsIt is used to develop APIs which enable interaction between the client and the server. It should be used to get a piece of data when the user connects any link to the particular URL.It is a web application that follows the REST infrastructure, which provides interoperability between different systems on the entire network.
Web servicesThe working of the URL is based on request and response.The working of RESTful is completely based on REST applications.
Data formatThe data format of REST is based on HTTP.The data format of RESTful is based on JSON, HTTP, and Text.
AdaptabilityIt is highly adaptable and user-friendly to all business enterprises and IT.It is too flexible when compared to RESTLESS web services.
ProtocolThe protocol is strong, and it inherits many security measures, which are built-in architecture layers.It is multi-layer and has a transport protocol which makes the system less secure when compared with REST.
BandwidthConsumes only minimum bandwidth.Consumes less bandwidth.
Table Source: educba

Key Differences between REST vs RESTful API

These are the key difference between REST vs RESTful API.

REST vs RESTful: Architecture

Though the architecture of both REST and RESTful API is similar, they vary with a slight difference. The REST API follows all the rules of the REST Architecture. It has a client-server, stateless, cacheable, layer system with a uniform interface, whereas the RESTful web applications have all the features of the REST architecture with unique additional features. The REST API has a separate system to handle application information.

REST vs RESTful: Cache Ability

The REST API exhibits cache ability as cacheable and not cacheable. This provides the clients and infrastructure an opportunity to store when it is possible. This is to increase the performance of the system. Whenever the client fails to use stored data, the not cacheable data gets displaced. In RESTful API, the constant state and cacheable information can be accessed by clients anytime anywhere.

REST vs RESTful: Stability

In REST API, the client has to manage all the application stages because the REST server does not maintain any kind of client state. You need to provide all the necessary data to process the request REST API. When there is any change in the RESTful APIs, it is essential for the client to revert back to the storage system. The exchange of data and state between the client and server establishes the stability of the REST systems. In RESTful services, the data implementation is hidden while the other data is not concealed.

REST vs RESTful: Multi-Layered Architecture

The constraint in REST, that the system’s devices are not able to view beyond the layer. This is overcome by combining the load balancers and some proxy to elevate the performance and security of the system. In the case of RESTful API, the boundaries are strong the separation between them is clear. This is because the layered architecture built over the client-server has stateless limits. The data flow across the boundaries is managed by the client based on their requirement. It is the responsibility of the client to either display or manipulates the data.

REST vs RESTful: Undeviating Interface

It is a very crucial requirement to have an undeviated interface. This undeviated interface between systems present in REST architecture acts as a unique feature to segregate REST architecture from other independent panache. Both REST services handle data as a resource with a unique and individual namespace.

REST vs RESTful: Remote Procedure Call on Web Services

When the service is not in REST, it automatically searches for URI working or HTTP verb services. This is called the uniform set of resources and denotes the structural representation of the REST data. This separation between every layer is known as REST. These are also known as remote procedure calls. The query on HTTP POST and HTTP GET with a URL link is used to post a file and also configure its content. REST RESTful APIs use services like PUT, DELETE, GET, POST, and PATCH to perform the HTTP actions.

CRUD Operations of REST RESTful APIs

REST vs RESTful: CRUD Operations
Image Source: railsbridge

CRUD is an acronym for Create, Read, Update, and Delete commands. These four major functions guide software developers to interact with databases. Despite its origin from databases, it now maps the design principle of dynamic applications like HTTP, SQL, and DDS. CRUD operations are cyclic rather than being an architectural system. Below are tasks performed by CRUD commands:

  • Create: is a procedure that generates new records.
  • Read: is a procedure used to read/retrieve data based on desired input parameters.
  • Update: This is a procedure used to modify records (without overwriting).
  • Delete: is a procedure used to remove (one or more) entries entirely.

Endpoints of REST RESTful APIs

API executes an operation using ‘requests’ and ‘responses.’ If APIs send a ‘request’ information from a web application or web server, it will receive a ‘response.’ The location where APIs send requests or where resources live are endpoints. With REST APIs, an endpoint is one end of a communication channel. Each endpoint is a location where REST APIs can access the resources needed to carry out a function.

The Future of REST RESTful API

According to the stats, it is said that 82% of the APIs were RESTful which are OpenAPI or Swagger and 21% were RESTful with not OpenAPI. There is only a very slight drop in the use of REST APIs in Public APIs. GraphQL is a close competitor of REST RESTful APIs. These APIs will always stay supreme and will not be directly affected by other market competitors.

Conclusion

From this blog, you would now know about APIs, REST APIs, and RESTful APIs. You will be able to appreciate the basic and key differences in the REST vs RESTful battle. The CRUD operations and Endpoints of REST RESTful APIs will be clear to you now. The future scope of these APIs is known at the end.

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