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HTTP method

An HTTP method is a command used in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to specify the desired action to be performed on a given resource. Common HTTP methods include GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, HEAD, OPTIONS, and PATCH, each serving a distinct purpose in web communication and API interactions.

Key HTTP methods include

  • GET: Requests data from a specified resource. It is safe and idempotent, meaning it does not alter the resource and multiple identical requests yield the same result.
  • POST: Submits data to be processed to a specified resource, often resulting in a change in state or side effects on the server. It is neither safe nor idempotent.
  • PUT: Replaces all current representations of the target resource with the uploaded content. It is idempotent.
  • DELETE: Removes the specified resource. It is idempotent.
  • HEAD: Similar to GET, but it retrieves only the headers without the body of the resource. Useful for checking resource metadata.
  • OPTIONS: Describes the communication options for the target resource, often used for CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) preflight requests.
  • PATCH: Applies partial modifications to a resource. It is not necessarily idempotent.

Usage Example: In a RESTful API, the following HTTP methods might be used to manage a collection of books:

  • GET /books: Retrieves a list of books.
  • POST /books: Adds a new book to the collection.
  • PUT /books/1: Updates the details of the book with ID 1.
  • DELETE /books/1: Deletes the book with ID 1.

Mastering HTTP methods is fundamental for developers, as it ensures that web applications and APIs function correctly, maintain data integrity, and provide a seamless user experience.

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