Understanding Representational State Transfer (REST)

📆 · ⏳ 3 min read · ·


In the world of web application development, Representational State Transfer (REST) has become the de facto standard for building web APIs. REST is a set of architectural principles that defines how web services should be structured and accessed. It provides a uniform way of accessing resources and has gained widespread adoption due to its simplicity, flexibility, and scalability.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what REST is, how it works, and why it has become so popular.

What is REST?

Representational State Transfer (REST) is an architectural style that defines a set of constraints to be used for creating web services.

It was first introduced by Roy Fielding ↗️ in his 2000 doctoral dissertation, where he described REST as a set of principles for building scalable and maintainable web services.

REST is based on the HTTP protocol and uses a client-server model, where the client sends a request to the server, and the server responds with the requested data.

How does REST work?

RESTful web services are based on a set of HTTP methods, which are used to manipulate resources. The four main methods are GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.

The GET method is used to retrieve data, while the POST method is used to create new resources. The PUT method is used to update existing resources, and the DELETE method is used to delete resources.

REST also uses a uniform resource identifier (URI) to identify resources, which are represented as hypermedia. This means that resources are represented in a self-describing way, making it easy for clients to understand the resource’s structure and how it can be manipulated.

REST has gained widespread adoption because it is simple, flexible, and scalable. Its simplicity makes it easy to learn and implement, while its flexibility allows for the creation of custom data formats and APIs.

Additionally, REST is scalable because it allows for the separation of concerns between the client and the server, making it easy to add new features and resources without impacting the overall system.

Real World Example

An example of a RESTful web service is the Twitter API, which allows developers to access Twitter’s data in a standardized way. Using the API, developers can create applications that interact with Twitter, such as displaying tweets on a website or analyzing user data. The Twitter API uses a set of HTTP methods, such as GET and POST, to access resources and manipulate data.


REST has become the standard for building web APIs due to its simplicity, flexibility, and scalability. Its use of HTTP methods and URIs makes it easy to understand and implement, while its use of hypermedia allows for resources to be self-describing.

RESTful web services have become a fundamental component of modern web development, and its principles have been adopted by many large organizations and web services, making it a critical skill for any web developer to know.

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