REST API vs Web API: An insight into the difference between REST and Web API is provided. You will understand the fundamental architecture, the protocol used, and both APIs’ data transfer formats and benefits. Undergoing this blog will help you choose the right API for your project, which can uphold performance, availability, and data security simultaneously.
REST and Web API are the two most popular mechanisms used by developers to integrate two systems and build communication between them. However, both are highly contrasting in nature and compatible in their significant use cases.
Before you utilize any of them, you should understand the benefits, design, architecture, workflow, protocol used and their other characteristics. And for this, you don’t need to navigate anywhere else, as every crucial aspect of Web API vs REST API is discussed further.
What are APIs, and Why Do You Need Them?
Application Programming Interface is a technological approach that helps companies connect different inter and intra-network systems without the need for additional infrastructure. Mainly, APIs are interfaces that leverage you with protocols, tools, and functions to interact with other services. You can also consider it as a logical bridge between the two applications or systems that help them in sharing data and resources.
In addition, three types of APIs are available and used, namely Private, Public, and Partnered. Private is for internal use, the public is for connecting with third-party services, and partnered is for closely related stakeholders. Further, these APIs are categorized on the basis of their functionality, and two of them – REST and Web API are discussed further in detail.
The benefits of using an API are as follows:
1: Improved Collaboration
APIs help to integrate other applications and platforms, which supports easy data sharing between departments and required stakeholders. In addition, it also improves productivity and performance and saves time, as people don’t have to switch between applications.
2: Data Protection
APIs use tokens and keys for maintaining data integrity and confidentiality. All the data shared using an API is protected using gateways and authentication mechanisms. You can also configure a TLS-based communication channel to encrypt each data for additional safeguarding.
3: Saves Cost
The cost of purchasing an additional infrastructure is saved by using API. It supports you in utilizing resources, accessing, writing, reading, and modifying data of another application through a logical bridge. Thus, you save plenty of money on the availing of the hardware, software, and human resources.
4: Increased Monetization
The monetization benefit is for those organizations that provide access to confidential or critical data through their APIs. It leverages them to sell their API keys to provide the associated services, access to information, and security to the audience. If you also develop an API that can provide access to such data, it can help you increase the revenue.
What is Web API?
Web API is considered the most uncomplicated and easy-to-develop and manage application programming interface. It’s used for building a resource-sharing connection between a server and a client device. For instance, if you are accessing a website from your laptop’s browser, an API is being used to transfer user requests, server acknowledgments, and files.
In addition, HTTP protocol is used in web API to exchange data, as it can work efficiently with JSON and XML. Due to this, low bandwidth doesn’t impact the operations, and all necessary resources are impeccably shared in the correct format.
A web API can be developed using some popular web development technologies, such as .NET, ASP.NET, and Java. Mainly, if any enterprise wants to use a web API, collaborating with an ASP.NET development company like Positiwise Infotech is highly preferred.
Further, all the web APIs are open-source in nature and can be modified according to custom business requirements. It can support you in serving the audience across different platforms, such as tablets, desktops, browsers, mobiles, and digital pads. Web APIs also support implementing RESTful web services and building active server pages, but for this, .NET and ASP.NET technology must be used.
Benefits of Web API
The advantages of Web API are as follows:
1: Easy Utilization
Among all the APIs, web API is the easiest to develop, configure and maintain. You don’t need any additional infrastructure or resources for it, as a .NET developer can effortlessly curate it. Also, they are open-source, which means that they can be customized and comply with the required standards.
The lightweight architecture of web API leverages companies to provide services to users with lower bandwidth devices. It doesn’t put additional load on the client device/browser and ensures the offer of all the services with utmost quality and accuracy.
3: No Additional Dependency Required
Web API is an integral component of the ASP.NET framework. Due to this, you don’t need to avail of any additional dependency for the API development and maintenance. Also, it helps to reduce complexity and centralize business logic for better productivity, performance, and stability.
4: Affordable Development
Creating web API is quite affordable compared to REST API development, configuration, and maintenance. You can hire ASP dot net core developers within your budget through outsourcing companies, and it will only cost you between US$18/hour to US$60/hour per expertise, project size, and team.
Examples of Web API
There’s an extended list of web API examples, but the following are the most utilized and popular ones.
1: ChatGPT API
ChatGPT is an AI model based on NLP (Natural Language Processing). Its API is used to enhance the chatbot functionality. Organizations train about their product and implement it on their customer support interface. Further, whenever a customer asks a question or queries about a technical problem or product, the ChatGPT API takes the input, provides it to the backend system, and returns the output.
2: Google Maps API
Google Maps API can be commonly seen everywhere. Most organizations and applications use it to provide location-based services. When you use Snapchat, Lyft, Alibaba Travels, Ola, and similar, the map showcased on the application is due to Google Maps API.
This API connects the application and Google Maps to offer the functionality to share location and track someone’s location in real-time.
3: PayPal API
The option to pay on an eCommerce using the PayPal account is mainly an API, which connects the users to the PayPal platform. When a user clicks on the PayPal checkout or similar option, the API sends the request and redirects the user to the PayPal platform. Further, when the transaction is completed, API takes the status and updates it on the eCommerce website.
What is REST API?
REST is not an API like Web API, but it’s an architecture used to develop Application Programming Interface. It helps you create a web service that establishes and maintains connections between systems, enabling them to communicate. The APIs built using the REST architecture are known as RESTful APIs, and nowadays, they are most used in enterprise management applications.
The REST architecture comprises six main components, namely client-server, uniform interface, statelessness, caching, layered system, and code on demand. All these elements are necessary to understand to gain an insight about REST API.
REST API Architecture
Following are the six main components of REST.
1: Client-Server architecture
For functioning, a REST API requires a client and a server machine. The client will send the requests that will be forwarded by the API to the backend server. Further, the server response will be carried by the REST API to provide it to the client. By using the same operation, REST API handles all the requests and responses.
2: Uniform Interface
Regardless of the number of requests and clients, the interface remains constant throughout. REST doesn’t allow the utilization of multiple and self-contained interfaces for an API. If you want to use this API, implementing a single yet distributed interface for all hypermedia connections is always preferred.
Every REST API request is independent of each other. It means that the data of one request is not shared with other requests, and the server destined for the request can only view the content. Because of this, scalability issues are resolved, and sometimes organizations save money on infrastructure and processing resources.
Caching is considered one of the robust REST API components. It helps to store data locally in the cache memory, leading to loading websites or providing responses faster than before. The developers can customize it per use case to improve performance.
5: Layered System
The layered architecture of REST leverages the developers to define the functionality accurately and increase application modularity and flexibility. Also, it helps in retaining the availability, as each layer is independent and can be updated without impacting other layers.
6: Code on demand
The code on demand is considered optional by numerous developers. Its primary function is to send code to the client device for processing. It’s not recommended nor required to develop and use REST API for public usage.
Benefits of REST API
The advantages of REST API are as follows:
1: Effortless Scalability
You can quickly scale up REST APIs by creating new endpoints. It benefits the developers to create complex logic quickly and streamline the request and response flow between the client and server devices.
2: Data Security
SSL-level encryption retains data integrity and confidentiality while using the REST API. It ensures that each bit is secured and illegitimate actors are prevented from accessing, reading, and modifying the data in the transmission channel.
3: Utmost Adaptability and Performance
REST API is faster than web services and API. It enables the synchronization of data from multiple websites and databases. In addition, it can be used to transfer data between servers and modify it using HTTP methods.
4: Flexible Architecture
The decoupled architecture of REST individualizes presentation from communication between client and server. Due to this, all the application components work seamlessly, and the possibility of interference is reduced.
5: Utilize HTTP Methods
REST API enables HTTP methods – GET, PATCH, DELETE, PUT, POST, TRACE, HEADS, and OPTIONS. All these methods help the developers to create logic and build appropriate API functions impeccably. Also, while troubleshooting, the methods help in easy root cause identification
Examples of REST API
The top REST API examples are as follows.
1: Twitter (Now Known as “X”) REST API
The Twitter REST API leverages the developers to use their identification mechanism. You must have seen websites and applications with the functionality to log in using your Twitter account. It’s due to the API that integrates the website and Twitter. In addition, the API also enables the display of tweets per hashtags and location on other apps using the API.
2: Instagram REST API
The Instagram REST API enables you to access and utilize profile data on your application. It helps the organization showcase its website social media posts without redirecting users. In addition, Graph API benefits can also be availed with it to track the account metrics and precisely handle Instagram activities.
3: Amazon S3 REST API
Amazon S3 REST API is most popular among developers looking to integrate artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science capabilities in software. The API ensures a secure communication channel between the app and the Amazon cloud service, supporting and running the AI mechanisms. As a result, the developers save on cost, time, effort, and infrastructure to support AI.
Difference Between REST and Web API
REST and Web API are highly contrasting technologies, and here, we have differentiated them on the basis of the protocol used, supported data formats, their design, use cases, and server-client coordination.
The REST API only supports the use of HTTP protocol to provide all its functionalities. To secure the transmissions, you need a TLS certificate configuration. On the other hand, Web API supports both HTTP and HTTPS for sharing client requests and server responses.
2: Data Formats
Web API supports significant data formats, such as JSON, BSON, plaintext, and XML. Also, in case you want to transfer data in binary format, Web API is the only compatible mechanism. In contrast, only the JSON format is supported by the RESTful API.
3: Design and Architecture
Web API uses MVC architecture due to the usage of .NET and ASP.NET technology to develop it. It leverages the developers to separate logic and ensure better processing. On the other hand, REST API architecture requires developers to follow the standards for all six components. To some extent, it can restrain flexibility.
4: Use Case
On the basis of the use case, REST and Web API are differentiated as below:
- The REST API is considered for cloud-based services, as it’s stateless and can scale dynamically without interfering with performance. Also, in the examples of REST API, Amazon S3 is mentioned, which means that if you want to use an API with the cloud, it should be REST.
- For streaming services, Web API is preferred due to its low bandwidth usage and lightweight structure. Moreover, it can be directly embedded in applications using .NET, Java, or ASP.NET tech.
- For CRUD or data manipulation functions, REST should be used due to its support for HTTP methods like GET, PUT, DELETE, and more.
5: Client-Server Coordination
In REST API architecture, the client and server are not dependent on each other, as REST works as a middleman between them. You can modify server or client configurations without impacting the other one. However, in Web API, the client and server are in direct contact, and any change on either side can create coordination issues.
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Concluding Up: The Winner of Web API vs REST API
Web API and REST are entirely different from each other. One is an API by default, and the other is an architecture to curate RESTful APIs. The usage of both APIs depends on the use case of the organization. Web API can be used for websites requiring tightly packed client-server and to provide streaming services.
However, REST API can transfer data in JSON format and loosely packed architecture needs. Similarly, you should examine your requirements and the benefits, features, and functionalities of Web and REST API to choose a reliable one for your business.
Expert in Software & Web App Engineering
Parag Mehta, the CEO and Founder of Positiwise Software Pvt Ltd has extensive knowledge of the development niche. He is implementing custom strategies to craft highly-appealing and robust applications for its clients and supporting employees to grow and ace the tasks. He is a consistent learner and always provides the best-in-quality solutions, accelerating productivity.