Find out the 5 key features of the REST API

3 min reading
Find out the 5 key features of the REST API
Find out the 5 key features of the REST API


Although the concept was coined more than 15 years ago, it has not been until recent times that the REST API has become one of the most used, to the point of being considered the choice in fashion. The truth is that this software architecture offers many advantages over other alternatives. Here below are the key features of the REST APIs that show (with examples) why its success is much more than a passing trend:

1. It is stateless

One of the main features of an REST API is that its service is stateless, which means that every time we refer to it, it will be necessary to remind it our data, whether it is our user credentials or any other information. What on the one hand might seem a disadvantage–implying the tedious task of repeating data–is actually one of its strengths: since it does not memorize them, it allows greater scalability. There will be no need for such powerful servers, capable of storing all the states of their clients.

This factor is particularly relevant for any bank API, such as those of BBVA. If the Fintech aims to attract all customers of banking institutions and get developers to introduce financial applications in their tools, the scalability of their API’s is paramount.

2. It supports JSON and XML

There are developers for all tastes and an API should aim to adapt to them all. Thus, another advantage of REST API is that it satisfies the expectations of those who use the JSON language as much as it satisfies those that rely on XML.

If giants like Microsoft, Google or WordPress opt for this type of software architecture in many of their tools it is, among other things, because it prevents them from ignoring any developer. They all have a place in the REST API world.

3. It is simple than SOAP

Beyond the REST architecture, developers are using the standard SOAP, another possibility when writing an API. The main advantage of the former over the latter is that its implementation is much simpler. A clear example can be seen in the API catalogue that Salesforce provides: it has tools with both architectures, but it notices that REST allows access to services that are “powerful, convenient and simpler to interact with Salesforce.”

4. Documentation

Each change in the architecture of the REST API should be reflected in its documentation so that any developer using it knows what to expect. This already represents another advantage over other standards, which, although they may be slightly explained–as it is the case of PayPal SOAP API−, usually do not provide much detail.

Nevertheless, the documentation does require the creators of the API to keep that information fully updated, which sometimes can be cumbersome. Luckily, there are tools like Swagger for synchronizing such updates so that they occur automatically when changing any detail of the API.

5. Error messages

When making a mistake while working with an API, any developer will appreciate knowing what the error has been. Hence, the possibility offered by the REST architecture of including error messages providing some clue in this regard is also relevant. Returning to Microsoft, the services offered by the company founded by Bill Gates through Azure–its tool for the cloud−have a clear list of possible error messages which, surely, must have been useful in more than one occasion.

Are you interested in financial APIs?  Discover all the options offered by BBVA

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