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Nov 14, 2022

REST API Naming Conventions and Best Practices

Author:
Nadin Pethiyagoda
Source:
Views:
2122

The main data representation in REST is referred to as a resource. A properly named resource makes an API simple to use and intuitive. That same API, when implemented incorrectly, may feel complicated and be challenging to use and comprehend. The following article will assist you in getting started when constructing the resource URIs for your new API.

Use Nouns to represent resources / Not Verbs

Always make sure that your URIs are named with nouns to specify the resource instead of using verbs. The URIs shouldn’t indicate any CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations. Additionally avoid verb-noun combinations: hyphenated, snake_case, camelCase.

Bad examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/CreateItems/{item-id}❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/getEmployees/{emp-id}❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/update-prices/{price-id}❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/deleteOrders/{order-id}❌

Good examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items/{item-id}✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/employees/{emp-id}✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/prices/{price-id}✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/orders/{order-id}✅

Use Pluralized Nouns for resources

Use plural when possible unless they are singleton resources.

Bad examples (Typical and Singleton resources):

http://api.example.com/v1/store/item/{item-id}❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/employee/{emp-id}/address❌

Good examples (Typical and Singleton resources):

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items/{item-id}✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/employees/{emp-id}/address✅

Use hyphens (-) to improve the readability of URIs

Do not use underscores. Separating words with hyphens will be easy for you and others to interpret. It is more user-friendly when it comes to long-path segmented URIs.

Bad examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/vendormanagement/{vendor-id}❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/itemmanagement/{item-id}/producttype❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/inventory_management❌

Good examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/vendor-management/{vendor-id}✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/item-management/{item-id}/product-type✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/inventory-management✅

Use forward slashes (/) for hierarchy but not trailing forward slash (/)

Forward slashes are used to show the hierarchy between individual resources and collections.

Bad example:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items/❌

Good examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items✅

Avoid using file extensions

They are unnecessary and add length and complexity to URIs.

Bad examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items.json❌
http://api.example.com/v1/store/products.xml❌

Good examples:

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items✅
http://api.example.com/v1/store/products✅

Version your APIs

Always attempt to version your APIs. You can provide an upgrade path without making any fundamental changes to the existing APIs by versioning your APIs. You can also let users know that updated versions of the API are accessible at the following fully-qualified URIs.

http://api.example.com/v1/store/employees/{emp-id}

Introduction in any major breaking update can be avoided with the following /v2.

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items/{item-id}
http://api.example.com/v2/store/employees/{emp-id}/address

Use query component to filter URI collection

You will frequently come into requirements that call for you to sort, filter, or limit a group of resources depending on a particular resource attribute. Instead of creating additional APIs, enable sorting, filtering, and pagination in the resource collection API and give the input parameters as query parameters to meet this requirement.

http://api.example.com/v1/store/items?group=124
http://api.example.com/v1/store/employees?department=IT&region=USA

Examples:

GET — Read employee with employee id 8345

example.com/employees/8345

POST — Create an employee

example.com/employees

PUT — Update employee with employee id 8345

example.com/employees/8345

DELETE — Delete employee with employee id 8345

example.com/employees/8345
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