REST API: What It Is and How to Use One for StreamingFebruary 1, 2019
What Does REST API Stand For?
Before getting into the details of a REST API, let’s spell out the acronym itself.
An API, or application programming interface, is a set of methods that enable different applications to interact with each other via a known framework.
One type of API is the REST variety, which stands for “Representational State Transfer.” This describes an architectural structure that is resource-based, allowing interoperability between computer systems on the internet. To do this, REST APIs follow a uniform set of operational constraints.
What are these constraints and what can a REST API do for you? We’ll dig deeper below.
What Does REST Dictate?
REST defines how an API is being implemented. In its simplest form, REST dictates that the server only act on requests currently being made — without maintaining a ‘session’ or knowledge of previous requests.
The REST standard outlines six constraints:
- Uniform interface
- Code on demand
Many implementations use one or more of these constraints to deliver an interoperable API for their service. The most common constraints are client-server, stateless, and uniform interface. Using these three is sufficient for the majority of service needs.
The term “RESTful” is used to describe APIs that adhere to the Representational State Transfer standard.
What Do the REST API Constraints Mean?
Constraints allow the API to stay within a set of boundaries that adheres to REST. No individual constraint should be viewed as more important than another. However, most implementations cover the following three:
Client-Server: The client-server constraint underpins much of the REST architecture by outlining that all developments of the client and server must be done separately. In removing the common link between client-server development, this allows changes to be made without negatively impacting the overall functionality.
Stateless: All REST interactions should be stateless. Any request made from the client should contain all the information to make the request successful. In reality, this means that while the server does not maintain state, the client may make multiple requests — data gathering and processing — before ever making the request containing the final action.
Uniform Interface: To make the client-server constraint successful, you need to have a uniform interface to interact with. This simply means that the interface — which could be a URL structure or data format — is not directly tied to an application implementation. That way, it’s easy to updates the interface without impacting the client-server constraint or the application itself.
What Are the Benefits of a REST API?
RESTful APIs have been adopted by many services, giving developers a consistent way to understand and implement them.
The appeal of REST APIs is driven by:
- Speedier application development
- Ease of understanding
- The simplicity of a similar framework across multiple services
- Improved flexibility because data is decoupled from specific resources or methods
This flexibility allows developers to build an implementation that meets their needs, without having to return different data formats and even structures based on the original request.
Although a REST service can be delivered over any protocol , the majority are delivered over HTTP. This makes implementation much simpler, as most developers have a general knowledge of the tools available to manage HTTP connections. That said, REST commands have fixed functional definitions that should be adhered to for compliance.
How Can REST APIs Be Used for Streaming?
Cloud Streaming Service
The Wowza Streaming Cloud™ service REST API supports stream creation, management, and monitoring within our cloud platform. Customers can use it to automate their needs, making integration with other parts of their service seamless. What’s more, we recently released version 1.3 of the API to give developers superior control of streaming workflows.
Available 24/7, the Wowza Streaming Cloud REST API is ideal for use cases that require efficient scaling. We also offer rich developer resources to help you along the way.
Streaming Server Software
The Wowza Streaming Engine™ software REST API allows you to configure nearly all functionality for your streaming needs, while also monitoring overall server utilization. Please note: Wowza offers the REST API per server, so customers need to configure each server independently for their service.
Create and manage a live streaming application today using Wowza Streaming Engine by checking out our docs.
Just Getting Started?
New to Wowza? Get started with a free developer trial of Wowza Streaming Engine or Wowza Streaming Cloud. Both trials come with REST API access, allowing you to develop live-streaming applications in a snap.