REST APIs help two software applications communicate and transmit data. If you use any software that integrates with another program, you're already familiar with APIs and how they work.
When you integrate one application with another, you use APIs, simplifying website and app development to help your business save time and money. For instance, manufacturers might integrate their accounting and inventory management systems to manage their finances better.
REST APIs are typically used for public products and services because they give developers more flexibility. But what is a REST API, and how can you use it in your business today? Keep reading to learn more about RESTful APIs, including their uses, how they work, and their advantages.
REST API meaning: What is a RESTful API?
Here's the REST API definition: An application programming interface (API or web API) that follows a set of architectural rules for how applications can communicate with one another using HTTP methods. RESTful web services use the REST API protocol, so they're sometimes referred to as RESTful APIs.
So what does REST stand for? Representational State Transfer. REST is an architectural style, not a protocol, making it more flexible than other APIs like simple object access protocol (SOAP). REST is commonly used for public APIs because it's flexible, allowing 2 different software applications to communicate and pass data back and forth.
Understanding what REST APIs are can be challenging because most people don't see the backend of a website. Real-world applications for REST APIs include integrations with various programs, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) software connecting with social media channels to schedule posts and communications in advance. Additionally, these APIs can improve behavioral targeting by integrating customer data with various marketing platforms like your email marketing or advertising software.
Regular consumers come into contact with RESTful APIs throughout the day. For instance, if you've ever logged into a website using Facebook or Gmail, you've used a REST API that allows one software or website to communicate with another to log you in.
Another example of a RESTful API is when you're shopping online and choose to checkout with PayPal. Many e-commerce websites allow this payment method because it's convenient for customers. As a result, you're transferred to the PayPal login page, which takes you through a series of steps to finalize your purchase.
Ways to use REST APIs
Any application you integrate with another uses APIs. These APIs are common in today's business world, allowing businesses to scale, provide better customer experiences, and grow without hiring more developers to make one software or website communicate with third-party applications. Instead, one company creates a public API that can streamline workflows on e-commerce websites.