What is a REST API?

What is a REST API?

Posted on May 29, 2019 0 Comments
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A REST (Representational State Transfer) API is an architectural style for creating web applications. Its core purpose is to ensure that computer systems on the Internet are interoperable.

Data Volumes Grow and Sources Become More Disparate

Incoming data volumes are growing at astounding rates. At the same time, data sources are becoming more disparate. In response, the REST API is becoming an increasingly popular way to access enterprise data from web and mobile applications, as well as modern programming languages.

But because REST is an architectural style, every REST API is different. So, every implementation requires a new client codebase to access the new database endpoint.

To handle the disparate nature of REST APIs, there’s an international standard—OData (Open Data Protocol). OData is an OASIS standard that defines a set of best practices for building and consuming RESTful APIs. OData helps you focus on your business logic while building RESTful APIs without having to worry about the various approaches to define request and response headers, status codes, HTTP methods, URL conventions, media types, payload formats, query options, etc. OData also provides guidance for tracking changes, defining functions/actions for reusable procedures, and sending asynchronous/batch requests. The OData industry standard architecture enables the easy addition of capabilities in the future without increasing the burden on IT.

When you develop the REST interface of your data source using the OData standard, you simplify how other developers can access your data. In short, they don’t have to learn how to use a new API. This makes integrating with different applications easier and simplifies the life of your users. Applications such as Tableau, Salesforce, Tibco, Telerik, Informatica, and Excel all work with OData. The list will only grow over time.

The Growth of APIs

APIs used to be simply a way for software developers to access functionality from other applications. With the pervasive growth of web and mobile applications, and the service-oriented design of applications, APIs have become widespread. APIs are now used for integration and data exchange and are vital tools for transforming businesses.

Increasing numbers of businesses, facing a need for mobile, web and cloud applications to access internal and business processes, are turning to APIs to unlock valuable assets. In fact, as of 2019, by one count the number of public APIs surpassed 21,000, the continuation of a long trend. This provides businesses with a powerful way to build custom applications without starting fresh. REST APIs, alongside OData, are the keys to making this all happen.

How Progress Helps

Progress DataDirect provides a path for utilizing REST APIs with the standard set of building blocks enabled by OData. DataDirect also enables the utilization of SQL to access other powerful functionality.

DataDirect can help enterprises do the following:

  • Deploy a standard REST (OData 2, OData 4) or SQL (ODBC, JDBC) data access layer for your database
  • Make your data accessible to analytics platforms, SaaS apps, Python, Java, JavaScript, .NET, R or SAS
  • RESTify your databases to access them from modern languages (JavaScript, Angular, etc.), modern devices (iOS, Android, etc.) and from web browsers.
  • Expose your on-premises data behind the firewall to cloud apps across the firewall
  • All customer-sensitive data is protected by encryption, both at rest (AES-256) and in transit (SSL/TLS)
  • Real-time access to on-premises data on demand can help you keep sensitive data behind your firewall and comply with strict data privacy laws such as GDPR.

To learn more about how Progress DataDirect enables API connectivity, visit https://www.progress.com/datadirect-connectors

James Goodfellow

James Goodfellow

James Goodfellow is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Progress and focuses his efforts on the DataDirect suite of solutions. Through his tenure at companies like Progress and SAS, he has spent the bulk of his career launching successful marketing campaigns for data and analytics products. James blogs here and around the web on topics such as data connectivity, analytics, IoT, visualization and machine learning. You can follow him on twitter at @jcgoodfellow.


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