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A RESTful API is a web service conforming to the REST architectural style, which stands for Representational State Transfer. RESTful APIs leverage standard HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, and others to perform operations on resources. These resources are identified by URLs and can be represented in various formats, typically JSON or XML.

Key characteristics

  • Stateless: Each API request from a client contains all the information needed to process the request. The server does not store any client context between requests, ensuring scalability and reliability.
  • Uniform Interface: RESTful APIs use standard HTTP methods and status codes, making them easy to understand and use.
  • Resource-based: Interactions with the API are centered around resources, which are identified by URLs. These resources can be manipulated using the standard HTTP methods.
  • Representation: Resources can be represented in multiple formats, with JSON being the most common due to its simplicity and ease of use.

RESTful APIs are widely used in web development for creating scalable and maintainable web services. They enable seamless integration between different systems and platforms, providing a standardized way to access and manipulate resources over the web.

By adhering to REST principles, RESTful APIs ensure that web services are simple to use, highly scalable, and easily maintainable, making them an ideal choice for modern web development.

Usage Example: A common example of a RESTful API is a web service for managing a collection of books. Clients can use:

  • GET to retrieve a list of books or a specific book.
  • POST to add a new book.
  • PUT to update an existing book.
  • DELETE to remove a book.

This approach provides a clear and consistent way to interact with the resource (books) using standard HTTP methods.

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