Month: October 2016

Building a Proper REST API with authentication

Authentication

First thing we need to be clear about is your method of authentication means nothing if you are not using https. If you are not using https then your users credentials can be snooped.

What is REST?

TL;DR Cheat sheet

Representation State Transfer

Resource based

we are talking about thing(nouns) instead of actions(verbs)

resource is identified by the URI

The representation is not the resource, it is just a representation.

Representations

How resources get manipulated.

Part of the resource state.

JSON or XML

Example:

Resource: person

Service: contact_info GET

Representation: name, address, phonenumber (JSON/XML)

6 Constraints

Violating any of these except the optional code on demand, means your API is not strictly RESTful

Uniform Interface

A consistent interface between client and server

HTTP Verbs: GET, PUT, POST, DELETE

Uri's: Resource names

HTTP Response: status, body

Stateless

Server contains no client state, each request has enough context for server to process in isolation

If there is state, it is kept on the client side

Client-Server

Assume a disconnected system

Separation of concerns

Cachable

Server response for representations

Implicit

Explicit - server specifies

Negotatiated - client and server negotiate

Layered System

Client does not assume direct connection

You don't know where or how you are getting the data

Improvesscalability

Code on Demand

Server can temporararily extend a client, transfer logic to client

Client executes logic

An optional constraint

Rest API Allows

  • Scalability
  • Simplicity
  • Modifiability
  • Visibility
  • Portability
  • Reliability

Tips

HTTP Verbs similarity with CRUD

CREATE = POST

READ = GET

UPDATE = PUT

DELETE = DELETE

Use URL not query string

  • Good: /users/12345
  • Poor: /api?type=user&id=23

Design for your clients not your data

Use Plurals for consistency

 

  • Recommended: /customers/33245/orders/8769/lineitems/1
  • Not: /customer/33245/order/8769/lineitem/1

Use the correct HTTP Status Code Responses

Offer JSON and XML

Use hypermedia links

A key concept that is central to the idea of what REST really is.

Hypermedia links (HATEOS)  or Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State make services more discoverable and self-descriptive

The client needs no prior knowledge about resources etc.

Documentation should not be a requirement to understand the API

So you can browse an API just like browsing the web <- that is restful

Client should not need to know how to interact with the data (hardcoded urls / resource names), the server should know this

So you can allow the html media type and you can really browse the api like you do the web

Effort required increases

Likely Requests and Responses

A list of HTTP methods and responses

Naming Resources

Use nouns

They should be predictable

Choose for clients not your data

Plurals: it is a debate but rather always user them

Idempotency

Basically an action can be applied to an object multiple times but applying it more than once will not change the state or result of it's application.

Eg. Getting a cow pregnant

A GET never changes data so it is idempotent (Safe method)

PUT is idempotent as it updates an object with the same data, will return the same result

DELETE is idempotent, it will return a 404 - NB. It is better to mark for deletion instead of actually deleting

POST is NOT idempotent, as for every new POST there is a new different result

 

 

Sources:

What is REST tutorial

Oauth2 vs Json Web Tokens

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