Representational State Transfer (REST)

Representational State Transfer (REST) is a software architectural style that defines a set of constraints to be used for creating Web services

Snippet from Wikipedia: Representational state transfer

Representational state transfer (REST) is a software architectural style that was created to guide the design and development of the architecture for the World Wide Web. REST defines a set of constraints for how the architecture of an Internet-scale distributed hypermedia system, such as the Web, should behave. The REST architectural style emphasises the scalability of interactions between components, uniform interfaces, independent deployment of components, and the creation of a layered architecture to facilitate caching components to reduce user-perceived latency, enforce security, and encapsulate legacy systems. REST has been employed throughout the software industry and is a widely accepted set of guidelines for creating stateless, reliable web services.

Any web service that obeys the REST constraints is informally described as RESTful. Such a web service must provide its Web resources in a textual representation and allow them to be read and modified with a stateless protocol and a predefined set of operations. This approach allows the greatest interoperability between clients and servers in a long-lived Internet-scale environment which crosses organisational (trust) boundaries.

"Web resources" were first defined on the World Wide Web as documents or files identified by their URLs. Today, the definition is much more generic and abstract, and includes every thing, entity, or action that can be identified, named, addressed, handled, or performed in any way on the Web. In a RESTful Web service, requests made to a resource's URI elicit a response with a payload formatted in HTML, XML, JSON, or some other format. For example, the response can confirm that the resource state has been changed. The response can also include hypertext links to related resources. The most common protocol for these requests and responses is HTTP. It provides operations (HTTP methods) such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. By using a stateless protocol and standard operations, RESTful systems aim for fast performance, reliability, and the ability to grow by reusing components that can be managed and updated without affecting the system as a whole, even while it is running.

The goal of REST is to increase performance, scalability, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability, and reliability. This is achieved through following REST principles such as a client–server architecture, statelessness, cacheability, use of a layered system, support for code on demand, and using a uniform interface. These principles must be followed for the system to be classified as REST.

The term representational state transfer was introduced and defined in 2000 by Roy Fielding in his doctoral dissertation. Fielding's dissertation explained the REST principles that were known as the "HTTP object model" beginning in 1994, and were used in designing the HTTP 1.1 and Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) standards. The term is intended to evoke an image of how a well-designed Web application behaves: it is a network of Web resources (a virtual state-machine) where the user progresses through the application by selecting resource identifiers such as http://www.example.com/articles/21 and resource operations such as GET or POST (application state transitions), resulting in the next resource's representation (the next application state) being transferred to the end user for their use.