How to Create a RESTful API for Your Mobile Application?7 min read
APIs have become essential parts of mobile applications and offer a variety of useful functions. Therefore, custom RESTful APIs for unique and inventive purposes are becoming increasingly popular. Top application developers eventually strive to understand and study API development.
If you do not have much experience with API development, building one may appear to be a daunting task. But do not be concerned. The blog highlights all you need to know about RESTful APIs and how to put one in place for your company.
So let’s talk about everything in detail.
What exactly is an API?
API is the abbreviation for “Application Programming Interface”. It enables developers to access a third-party program or platform in the most basic sense. Developers currently employ two different types of API protocols:
Check any application currently operating on your phone to see if it uses the Facebook API, which is the most widely used API among iOS and Android application developers. Another notable example is the Paypal API, which is used by the majority of applications nowadays for simple payments.
If you are an application developer, you probably do not need another tutorial on APIs. Because you will be using them to build software. Popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google all have APIs through which you can access their various features.
What is a REST API?
REST APIs were first proposed by Roy Fielding in 2000. A RESTful API, in short, employs HTTP requests to handle data and follows architectural design rules. Its ability to build on top of existing systems is one of the reasons why it is so popular for establishing web services.
Before you start developing RESTful APIs, you need to have a basic understanding of:
- Web-based services.
- Protocols for data transfer.
- The mapping of URLs.
- Concepts of networking.
The Advantages of the REST API
It has been discovered that over 70% of developers prefer REST to SOAP because of the following benefits:
- It is simple to understand and use.
- When connecting with servers, no expensive tools are required.
- To interact quickly and efficiently, use short codes or message forms.
- It does not necessitate any lengthy processes to be completed in such a short period of time.
- It is compatible with today’s web technology.
- XML-RPC, REST, and SOAP are the most commonly used request formats, while PHP and JSON are also popular.
REST APIs’ Constraints
Only by complying with the following requirements does a REST API become RESTful. Each constraint provides the system with useful qualities:
- The uniform interface makes the system easy to use, understand, evolve, and rely on.
- The client-server architecture simplifies, evolves, and scales the system.
- Stateless systems are easy to maintain, evolve, and rely on.
- Cacheable allows the system to be scalable and fast.
- Microservices make the system more adaptable, scalable, manageable, performant, and reliable.
- Code-on-Demand allows the system to grow and evolve.
How Do You Create a RESTful API?
You have two options for integrating APIs into a mobile application:
- Develop it from scratch
- Use an existing API.
The simpler and more time-saving approach is to use existing APIs. However, if you want maximum security and customizability, you should design your own API.
Follow the steps below to begin developing an API from scratch:
Select a Standard Architecture
If you are going to design your own API, “common architecture” is the best option. It is a good place to start for most API developers who want to work quickly. A shared architecture allows for quick updates and alterations.
The following are four popular API architectures:
1. Pragmatic REST.
2. Web service.
Web app development favors hypermedia, while mobile app development favors event-driven and pragmatic approaches. Event-driven architecture is great for gaming apps, cloud-based apps, and video chat applications.
Choose a trustworthy server and database
The importance of servers is equal to that of API design. When it comes to network data usage, make sure the server you choose keeps the expenses low for users. It should also assist consumers in preserving their device’s battery life. When data is stored remotely on a server or other devices, it ensures that programs work smoothly and that data is synchronized across all user devices.
The database you select should be based on your application’s design. MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and other popular databases are examples.
Strong Security Measures Should Be Used
It is critical to keep consumers’ and corporate data safe. Any security issue in API technology can cost you huge amounts of money. When developing APIs for mobile applications, you should use the HTTPS protocol, secure password encryption mechanisms, and authentication frameworks. When sharing sensitive data, use industry standards such as OpenID Connect, TLS, and OAuth 2.0 rather than your own API security measures.
The Complete Process Should Be Documented
Furthermore, keep track of your API development activities to stay organized and on the same page. It also allows you to keep track of the current status of the API and make future upgrades as simple as possible.
Another reason to keep track of your API’s development is to make it available to other developers. A good documentation guide makes it easier for other developers to utilize your API without having to learn how it works and how to use it.
Hiring a web server with VPS or dedicated packages for storage is a fantastic option, but utilizing cloud hosting services is an excellent decision. Cloud servers are a safe, efficient, and cost-effective solution to store your application and API data. When hosting APIs, you should think about the following aspects:
- There is enough room for both horizontal and vertical scaling.
- The scope includes three alternative API backend environments: development, staging, and production, as well as the ability to migrate easily between them.
- With the help of these facilities, features and functionality can be recreated with ease.
- Data storage, backups, and data protection are all components of data security that can be addressed using the most up-to-date technology and infrastructure.
- You can use iOS application APIs, Android application APIs, or other OS platform-based APIs because they are platform independent.
Create API in RESTful Way
I would like to share some helpful suggestions about designing RESTful APIs.
Rule#1: When designing APIs, strive to utilize a style that is familiar to you.
For mobile application development, Pragmatic REST is the best option. Event-driven architecture is only useful in a few situations.
Rule#2: Make good use of layering.
- To place it at the top, the security layer is necessary.
- To improve API performance, the following layer should be a caching layer.
- Create a developer-friendly representation layer.
- To integrate data from many APIs, use the orchestration layer next to the interface.
Rule#3: Filtering, sorting, pagination, and searching can all be done via URL parameters.
You will need to properly design your API endpoints in a timely manner.
Rule#4: To communicate successfully between endpoints, follow the rules for requests and answers.
The request’s rules are as follows:
- Do not force client devices to communicate only in selected fields; instead, let them send whole objects if they wish.
- Consider the type of content and whether or not to accept headers in queries.
- Use a CamelCase or snake case consistently, and keep in mind that a snake case is more legible than a CamelCase.
- Using an empty envelope to enclose data is not a good idea.
Tools for Implementing RESTful APIs
When creating APIs for mobile applications in order to enable web services, you must utilize the right tools. Begin by implementing a reliable project management system. Documentation, testing, and debugging can all be done with tools. The following are some of the most commonly used API development tools:
Project Management: Trello is a great SaaS-based software application for project collaboration and tracking. To utilize it for REST API development projects, go to its official website.
Development Tools: Creating a trustworthy API requires a suitable development environment. Choose from tools such as Slate, Apiary, and others. Slate is a user-friendly programming language that allows you to write code in several languages. Apiary, on the other hand, allows you to create attractive design components.
Testing Tools: The testing tools you use for API development are determined by the programming language you employ. If you are writing Java code, “REST-assured” is a good choice. Another good alternative is Chakram, a Node.js-based REST API testing framework.
Documentation Tools: Swagger is a good documentation tool for API projects. It supports a wide range of languages and is an excellent solution for storing critical project data (error codes, success messages, and so on) over time.
Hosting Tools: Apart from developing an API, choosing a reliable hosting option is critical for your mobile app. For instance, explore Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud, Digital Ocean, and Rackspace.
APIs were created to assist in the development of mobile applications while also providing engaging user experiences. Gone are the days of standalone apps and disconnected experiences. To improve the functionality of your application, use backend APIs or create your own from scratch.
These are some quick and easy guides to designing and developing APIs for mobile applications. For further information, you should contact professional and skilled mobile application developers with a flair for API development.
There is a team at Groove Technology that understands how to accomplish desired results in API development for mobile applications, allowing you to take advantage of their talents on a budget.