When you first hear the term resource-based web services or RSOA, it might be easy to overlook this new way of designing APIs because it sounds rather obtuse and complex. Here’s what you need to know about resource-based web services, why they matter, and how they work.
To put it simply, RESTful web services use HTTP methods to perform CRUD operations. You can create a resource using POST and then retrieve a list of resources using GET, edit an existing resource using PUT and delete a resource using DELETE.
At its core, a resource-oriented architecture (ROA) is about having just one way to represent an entity – be it data or an application. The ROA approach dictates that a software solution should not have multiple representations of an entity. Instead, there should only be one representation of each entity in a system.
Using resource-based web services simplifies the process of creating an API to make it faster and easier to use — especially for mobile apps — leading some to believe that RSOA may supplant REST as the most popular way to design API interfaces in the future.
In its simplest form, REST is an architectural style that many organizations have adopted as their preferred way to create APIs for accessing data from different sources. It stands for Representational State Transfer, which Roy Fielding created in his doctoral dissertation on distributed systems management.
RBSs and SOAP APIs have been around for a long time, and they’re still in use today. But many companies are now moving toward using a REST API. They have some advantages over their predecessors:
According to Contentful, “REST APIs can be used with any programming language, unlike SOAP/RBS APIs requiring learning XML.”
REST APIs are more lightweight than SOAP/RBS APIs. This means that they use less bandwidth and can be processed faster.
REST APIs also allow you to make a single request, which returns all of your data. In contrast, with SOAP/RBS APIs, you need to make multiple requests to get all of your data.
There are some disadvantages to RBS. One of them is that it adds an extra layer of complexity to an already complex system, making it more difficult for some developers and organizations to implement.
Another disadvantage is that in order to use a resource-based web service, you need to know what those resources are before you can access them; if you don’t know what they are upfront, you may have difficulty using a particular service.
Many of us rely on APIs to access content, find information and share data with other applications. By integrating RBS with existing web APIs, we can generate more value from our application and our resource services. One study indicates that REST-based APIs will make up over 80% of new APIs created by 2024.
The rapid success of REST web services can be attributed to a few key principles that focus on clean and simple code, ease of use, and low-cost development.