Backend Basics: RESTful API (API, REST, Methods, JSON, Examples)

As you probably know, a typical modern application consists of 2 main parts: Frontend and Backend.

  1. Frontend: This is the part of the application that users interact with directly. It usually includes the user interface (UI) and any components that users interact with, such as buttons, forms, and menus. The frontend is responsible for presenting data to users and capturing user input.
  2. Backend: This is the part of the application that is responsible for handling business logic, processing data, and interacting with databases or external services. The backend is usually not visible to users and works behind the scenes to ensure that the application functions correctly.

Together, the frontend and backend work together to create a seamless user experience and provide the functionality that users expect from modern applications.

If you want to create a web or mobile app, you need to have at least a basic understanding of REST API which is commonly used on backend development.

bsolutely, understanding REST APIs is crucial for developing modern web and mobile applications. BaaS platforms like Altogic can indeed simplify the process of building complex backend systems by providing ready-made solutions for common backend functionalities. Is there anything specific you’d like to learn about REST APIs or BaaS platforms?

RESTful API

Let’s break down the terms “REST” and “API”:

  1. REST (Representational State Transfer): REST is an architectural style for designing networked applications. It defines a set of constraints that should be followed when designing web services. These constraints include using a client-server architecture, statelessness, caching, and uniform interface.
  2. API (Application Programming Interface): An API is a set of rules and protocols that allows one software application to interact with another. It defines the methods and data formats that applications can use to communicate with each other.

In the context of web development, a REST API is a type of API that follows the principles of REST. It typically uses HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE to perform operations on resources (such as data) and uses standard data formats like JSON or XML for data exchange.

Methods

In RESTful API, the client and server communicate using the HTTP protocol. The client sends a request to the server, and the server processes this request and sends back a response in return.

Here is the HTTP methods that are commonly used in RESTful APIs:

  1. GET: Used to retrieve data from the server. It should not have any side effects on the server (i.e., it should be idempotent).
  2. POST: Used to submit data to the server to create a new resource. It can have side effects, such as creating new resources or updating existing ones.
  3. PUT: Used to update or replace an existing resource on the server. It is idempotent, meaning that making the same request multiple times should have the same effect as making it once.
  4. DELETE: Used to delete a resource on the server. It is also idempotent.
  5. PATCH: Used to partially update a resource on the server. It is not strictly idempotent, as multiple requests may have different effects depending on the order in which they are processed.
  6. OPTIONS: Used to describe the communication options for the target resource. It is often used to request information about the supported methods and other capabilities of the server.
  7. HEAD: Similar to GET, but only returns the headers of the response without the actual content. It is often used to check the status of a resource without downloading the entire content.

These HTTP methods allow clients to perform various actions on resources exposed by a RESTful API, such as retrieving, creating, updating, and deleting data.

Here’s an example of how you might use Altogic to create a backend app with a RESTful API:
  1. Create a new project: Log in to your Altogic account and create a new project for your backend app.
  2. Define your data model: Use Altogic’s data modeling tools to define the structure of your data. For example, you might create a “User” model with fields for the user’s name, email, and password.
  3. Create API endpoints: Use Altogic’s API builder to create endpoints for your API. For example, you might create a “/users” endpoint to manage user accounts, with methods for creating, reading, updating, and deleting users.
  4. Implement your business logic: Use Altogic’s visual logic builder to implement the business logic of your application. For example, you might create logic to validate user input, authenticate users, and perform actions based on user requests.
  5. Test your API: Use Altogic’s testing tools to test your API endpoints and ensure they work as expected.
  6. Deploy your backend: Once you’re satisfied with your backend app, deploy it to Altogic’s cloud infrastructure to make it available to your frontend application or mobile app.

By using Altogic’s tools, you can quickly and easily create a backend app with a RESTful API without having to write a lot of code from scratch.

What is JSON?

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data interchange format that is easy for humans to read and write and easy for machines to parse and generate. It is based on a subset of the JavaScript programming language and is often used to serialize and transmit structured data over a network connection, typically between a server and a web application.

JSON is commonly used in web development to send data between the frontend and backend of an application. It is often used in conjunction with RESTful APIs to exchange data in a format that is easy to work with in various programming languages.

JSON supports two main data structures:

  1. Collection of name/value pairs: This is similar to an object in JavaScript. It consists of a set of key-value pairs, where the keys are strings and the values can be any valid JSON data type (string, number, boolean, array, object, or null).
  2. An ordered list of values: This includes arrays, lists, sequences, etc. It is similar to arrays in most programming languages and allows you to store an ordered collection of values, where each value can be any valid JSON data type.

These data structures allow JSON to represent a wide range of data types and structures, making it a versatile format for data interchange.

A name/value pair consists of a field name (in double quotes), followed by a colon, followed by a value. So in the below example, the name is “firstName”, and the value is “John”.

Example: “firstName”: “John”

You need to put text values between double-quotes. For numbers, boolean values, or null values, you do not need double quotes.

Example: “age”: 24

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