RESTful and HTTP APIs in Pyramid Transcripts
Chapter: What is REST?
Lecture: Introduction to RESTful services

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0:01 In this chapter we're going to look at what makes a service a restful service,
0:05 what are some of the core building blocks
0:08 like http status codes, http verbs and so on
0:11 and we'll compare and contrast restful services with the broader service landscape.
0:17 Generally speaking, restful services are services
0:21 built upon http that follow the restful principles,
0:25 and you want to think of this more as a spectrum of options,
0:29 how restful are you, not yes it's restful, no it's not.
0:33 So the most important thing is that we're communicating over http,
0:38 we have a service, it's using http or https
0:42 and it's explicitly using all the concepts and mechanisms built into the http itself,
0:48 so http status codes, the verbs, get post put delete,
0:53 content types both for the inbound data and the outbound data,
0:56 there are many services that have been built
0:59 that technically use http as the transport layer
1:01 but they ignore all of these things, and they layer their own concepts on there,
1:04 those are not restful services.
1:07 Next, the endpoints that we're talking to are urls
1:09 and this typically means that when we design our service
1:12 we're thinking in terms of nouns,
1:14 so maybe I'm designing a bookstore and I might have /api/books
1:18 I wouldn't have /api/getbooks, or /api/addbooks or even /api/books/add,
1:27 no, you just have /books and you apply the verbs,
1:31 http verbs to them to modify them,
1:34 do you want to get all the books, we'll do a git request against /api/books;
1:38 do you want to add a new one, let's to do a post or a put to that, all right.
1:42 So you combine these http concepts, codes and verbs,
1:46 and you apply them to these endpoints,
1:49 so really the takeaway is when you design these APIs,
1:51 you need to think in terms of nouns, what are the things being acted upon in your system.
1:55 The responses from your request should be cashable
2:00 not every single type of request that's made you a service will be cashable
2:04 but in general, when the http verb says it can be cashed,
2:08 it should be possible for it to be cashed,
2:11 like a get request against /api/books may be intermediate proxy server
2:15 should be able to cash the response from there.
2:18 We also want to make sure your system is a layered system
2:21 and what that means is your service clients they cannot see past your API.
2:27 If your service is calling through to other services,
2:32 and it's composing them to basically make up its own functionality
2:36 that should be opaque to your consumers.
2:39 Your services should also be stateless, you should be able to make requests
2:44 get a response and that's all you need to know,
2:47 what goes in, what goes out, you don't like log into it
2:50 and then do a bunch of operations and then log out, right.
2:53 If you have to carry that authentication,
2:56 maybe you have to pass some kind of token as a header value or something like that.
2:59 Mini restful services support content negotiation,
3:02 so let's take our book example /api/books/one might give us book one.
3:08 Well how do you want that, do you want that in xml, do you want it in json,
3:12 do you want the picture that is the cover page?
3:14 Well how do we know, you could have a bunch of different end points
3:17 but typically these restful services will support content negotiation
3:21 so if I make a request to that url and I specify I want json
3:26 well I should get a json representation of the book back;
3:29 but, if I specify one image png
3:32 maybe I should get back the cover picture for that book,
3:34 so that's content negotiation.
3:37 Finally, we have a thing called hateoas
3:40 or hypermedia as the engine of application state.
3:43 Now, this is used less but some restful services do make use of hateoas,
3:47 and the idea is I make a request just to the service,
3:51 in that response maybe I have other urls that the current state of the service
3:57 my interaction with it maybe I can follow those further
4:02 so I go hey book store, what do you got; and it says well,
4:06 I have /books and I have /authors,
4:08 and if I follow /authors maybe it says well, here's a bunch of the people
4:12 that you go look at, you could maybe add a new one, things like that.
4:15 So this sort of dynamic response and traversal
4:18 is very much like the web works now
4:21 you don't go to like some long url,
4:25 you just go to and you look around
4:28 and it tells you what the current news items are,
4:31 you click on them, you go into them further and you see maybe the related items
4:34 that's hateoas, but think of that at the service layer.
4:37 So remember, I said you want to think of this as a spectrum,
4:40 the more of these you include the more restful your services are.
4:45 You will run into some folks that say if you don't have all of these
4:49 and maybe something I'm maybe forgetting, then your service is not restful,
4:52 and that's one way to see the world but I think it's a little too black and white,
4:55 the more of these that you adopt the more restful that your service is.
4:59 You start with a basic http service and you build restful principles into it.
5:03 So I would say most services probably make it down to 3 to 5,
5:10 6 and 7 are possible, 6 is certainly used some of the time,
5:14 7 is used but it's the least used of all of these.