BEST PRACTICES FOR REST API DESIGN
7 min
May 09 2021

1. API Documentation

Always provide clear and concise documentation is necessary for any API, it becomes harder to use that API later without good documentation. So make sure that your API has good documentation using simple languages with updates and new releases.
Your API Documentation should include the following:

2. Don't Return Plain Text

It is not necessary to go above JSON in REST architecture, as most REST APIs use JSON as a data format. But there are times when returning a body that contains a JSON-formated string isn't enough. Such as you can specify the Content-Type header set to the value application/json.

3. Automate Caching

Repeated request and responding to those request consumes resources and this becomes a sign of flawed design. To solve this problem you must store data fetched from the API on the server and serve later from there. However, there are times when the data becomes outdated and needs to be updated, in this case, we have some industry caching solutions (Redis and Amazon ElasticCache) that can cache data even after making changes.

4. Use Plural Resource Nouns

There is nothing wrong with singular resource nouns, but if you want to just keep things simple, then it is recommended to use plural resource nouns. For example, GET/post/3/ looks fine but what about GET/post/?. In this case, we are not confirmed if we are getting only one post or all of them. To avoid this approach and be more consistent you can use plural resource nouns.

5. Handle Trailing Slashes

Using trailing slashes is a matter of choice, but make sure that you are sticking to that one choice with trailing slashes. As there are times when inconsistency will be there due to some minor mistakes. For example, in a REST API project, you can receive a 500 Internal Error just because of a missing trailing slash.

6. Filtering and Pagination

Every database behind a REST API becomes larger with time and there are times when we have to control the flow of the data at once, otherwise, that can bring our systems down easily. This is why always allow filtering in your APIs. We also need to paginate data to return a few results at a time, otherwise, all of our resources will blow because of trying to get all the requested data at once.
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