Web Developer

REST Architecture: Find out what it is and its differences

In the world of programming, REST — Representational State Transfer — aims to define fundamental characteristics for the development of Web applications, which only work the way we know them thanks to these practices.

The best-known benefits of this practice are the ease of execution, the high use of web infrastructure and an uncomplicated learning format. With that in mind, we prepared this article to help you understand the concept a little better. Continue reading to find out more!

What is REST?

The acronym REST means “Representational State Transfer”. Conceived as an abstraction of web architecture, it is a set of principles and definitions necessary for creating a project with well-defined interfaces.

The use of the REST architecture , therefore, allows communication between applications. When opening the browser, it establishes a TCP/IP connection with the destination server and sends a GET HTTP request, with the searched address.

The server then interprets the request, returning an HTTP response to the browser. This response can be complete, with representations in HTML format, or present an error, stating that the requested resource was not found.

This process is repeated several times in a navigation period. Each new URL opened or form submitted retraces the steps we described. In this way, these elements allow the creation of web applications, designing the way we browse the internet.

Web Services that adopt REST are lighter and more perfect in the pursuit of agile methodology . Another difference is flexibility, being possible to choose the format that best fits the system messages. The most used, in addition to pure text, are Json and XML, depending on the needs of each moment.

Are REST and RESTful the same thing?

Now that you know a little more about REST, it’s time to understand what RESTful is . Although they may generate some confusion, the two terms reveal the same purpose. Therefore, we can say that systems that use REST determinations are called RESTful.

  • REST: represents a collection of architectural principles,
  • RESTful: represents the condition of a specific system in applying REST concepts.

Differences between SOAP and REST

While REST is simpler to understand and quite accessible, there is a gap in terms of standards, being considered and seen more as an architectural approach.

SOAP, in turn, is established in the market, with well-structured protocols and a set of well-established rules. Unlike REST, which uses HTTP/HTTPS, in this protocol requests are sent using any available transport method, including SMTP and JMS ( Java Messaging Service ).

  • Based on XML, SOAP acts in three ways, through an envelope:
  • Defining the content of the message and informing how to process it;
  • Determining a set of encoding rules for data types,
  • Correcting the layout for call and response procedures.

This envelope is sent, for example, via HTTP/HTTPS. An RPC ( Remote Procedure Call ) is then executed , returning information from the formatted XML document.

This approach can be considered somewhat long-winded and requires slightly longer analyses. Both technologies, however, are viable for web developers. Because they meet diverse programming requirements, SOAP and REST can even work in partnership.

Relationship between HTTP and REST

HTTP ( HyperText Transfer Protocol ) is the most popular way to transfer data. Most RESTful APIs use HTTP as the official communication protocol, as it presents a standardized operations interface.

HTTP allows you to create, update, search, execute and remove operations by acting on certain resources. It also presents a collection of responses, guiding clients (browsers or APIs) in their actions when faced with specific responses.

Good practices for REST

When dealing with restful Web services , the expectation is that, when building applications, the user has a system that exploits the Web architecture to their benefit. Among the fundamental actions that you must follow within this routine, we can mention:

  • Determine an identifier for all things;
  • Link and interact with things;
  • Use methods that have a pattern;
  • Define resources with varying representations,
  • Prioritize stateless communication.

Even though many web applications do not comply with method and response conventions, it is extremely important, whenever possible, to program using them in the most appropriate way possible.

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