Uniform Interfaces in a Nutshell

The uniform interface constraint defines the interface between clients and servers. It simplifies and decouples the architecture, which enables each part to evolve independently. The four guiding principles of the uniform interface are:

Resource-Based

Individual resources are identified in requests using URIs as resource identifiers. The resources themselves are conceptually separate from the representations that are returned to the client. For example, the server does not send its database, but rather, some HTML, XML or JSON that represents some database records expressed, for instance, in Finnish and encoded in UTF-8, depending on the details of the request and the server implementation.

Manipulation of Resources Through Representations

When a client holds a representation of a resource, including any metadata attached, it has enough information to modify or delete the resource on the server, provided it has permission to do so.

Self-descriptive Messages

Each message includes enough information to describe how to process the message. For example, which parser to invoke may be specified by an Internet media type (previously known as a MIME type). Responses also explicitly indicate their cache-ability.

Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State (HATEOAS)

Clients deliver state via body contents, query-string parameters, request headers and the requested URI (the resource name). Services deliver the state to clients via body content, response codes, and response headers. This is technically referred-to as hypermedia (or hyperlinks within hypertext).

Aside from the description above, HATEOS also means that, where necessary, links are contained in the returned body (or headers) to supply the URI for retrieval of the object itself or related objects. We’ll talk about this in more detail later.

The uniform interface that any REST services must provide is fundamental to its design.

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