Why Being RESTful Is so Important to the Health of Your System

Posted by: Cantle Tech

We all need to rest from time to time; it’s crucial to our wellbeing and our overall health. Without it, we become sluggish or fail to communicate at our best.

Your system might feel the same way. Do your enterprise solutions get all the REST they need? If you’re considering a new system or building a new API, you should consider “getting some REST.”

You may have heard your technical account manager or your IT team discuss REST-based architecture, but what does this mean? And why is it so useful for your system? Let’s pull back the veil on this concept and learn more about why RESTful systems are so healthy.

What Is a RESTful System?

Before we get into discussing RESTful systems, APIs, web services and all the included benefits, what do we mean by “REST?”

REST stands for Representational State Transfer, which you also may have seen written as “ReST.” It is an architectural style that provides standards between computer systems on the web, which makes it easier for systems to communicate with one another.

RESTful systems are categorized by how stateless they are. What does this mean? RESTful systems are stateless, which means that the server does not require knowing what state of operations the client is in and vice versa. This means that the client and the server can understand any message they happen to receive, even if they haven’t seen the previous messages.

Because RESTful applications, APIs and other REST-based solutions are stateless, they also are highly reliable and scalable, providing quick performance. Components always can be managed, updated and reused without affecting the system as a whole. These changes even can be implemented during operation of the system with RESTful architecture in place.

How RESTful Systems Work

A RESTful system breaks an exchange of information down into a series of small modules. Each one of these modules addresses a particular segment of the underlying exchange of information and gives developers a lot of flexibility.

Think of this exchange of information like a data request. REST requests work pretty much the same way a website does. The client requests information from a server, and they get data back following traditional HTTP protocol. Like HTTP requests, the user requests information, and the server relays that information back to the client. Where REST differs is that it dictates how distributed systems on the web should communicate.

What are the two rules of REST that outline how this communication should happen?

  • The method information (how the user tells the service provider what operation should be performed) must be expressed in an HTTP format.
  • The scoping information (how the user tells the service provider what data to operate on) must be in the URI, or uniform resource identifier.

The Benefits of REST

Cloud Computing and Adaptability

Why is this information so important, and why is a RESTful system such a good idea? Because in a RESTful system the request of information between the user and the server is stateless, REST is very useful in cloud applications and cloud computing. This is because those stateless components can be redeployed if something fails. It also means they can accommodate load changes, which makes a RESTful system highly scalable.

RESTful systems are great at accommodating all kinds of changes. This is because the requests can be directed to any one particular component of the system. In other words, nothing is saved to be remembered by the next transaction, and nothing has to remain in the same place. This makes it ideal for use in cloud computing because of this flexibility.

Why? No matter what happens with your servers, you can trust the server to relay requested information back to the user because the request for information still will be available. In other words, it just works.

RESTful APIs are particularly helpful in providing reliable information. REST APIs always adapt to the user’s syntax or platform. This means that changes and testing in new environments can still happen; you can have a PHP, Java, Python or Node.js server, and your API still will deliver information to the client.

Caching and Search Engine Optimization

In today’s world, where quick load times are key to SEO, RESTful architecture can be your best friend. RESTful architecture enables server-side caching, which can optimize your systems and improve site loading speed for your client, but it also can take some of the stress off your servers. The load is reduced, which frees up more power for other functions.

Why does this matter? Not only do you want your servers to be free to handle other requests, but you can’t afford for your systems to lag. Forty-seven percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent of consumers will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This means you need your servers to respond quickly, and caching via RESTful architecture is the way to do that.

Other Benefits

Unlike SOAP (simple object access protocol), the other major web service access protocol, which only allows XML formats, RESTful architecture allows a greater variety of data formats. In many cases, both REST and SOAP methods can be used for development, but REST prevails as a far more popular option, representing the formatting for 70 percent of total public APIs.

Why is this? What are some other benefits of using RESTful architecture compared to SOAP?

When paired with JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), REST is generally accepted as being much easier to work with.

  • REST offers better support to your server’s clients when partnered with JSON.
  • REST also provides superior performance as a result of information caching that’s not altered and not dynamic.
  • Major services such as Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and Google use REST protocol most frequently.
  • REST uses less bandwidth and is typically much faster. It also makes for easier integration with existing websites. Without RESTful architecture, site infrastructure has to be refactored to include new functionality. Developers can work faster and don’t have to rewrite an entire site to include new functionalities.
  • REST allows you to use a layered system. For example, this means that you can deploy APIs on server A, store data on server B and authenticate requests on server C. It takes less power from each of your servers without sacrificing quality for the user experience.

When you want to add new functionalities or make improvements to your existing site, this is a much more challenging process without the use of REST architecture; it’s “healthier” for your system. With REST, these changes can be made without ever having to bring your operations to a halt. Also, you can avoid delays or failures in sending and receiving information when you utilize the flexibility and scalability of REST.

If you’re seeking reliable, fast, dependable APIs, apps or other systems, Cantle Tech can help develop the RESTful solutions you need. Our passion is developing solutions that work for you no matter what with speed and efficiency, and that includes creating REST-based architecture with expertise and care.

Does your system need REST? Contact us today to learn more!