RESTful Web APIs Paperback – Sep 30 2013
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About the Author
Leonard Richardson (http://www.crummy.com/) is the author of the Ruby Cookbook (O'Reilly) and of several open source libraries, including Beautiful Soup. A California native, he currently lives in New York.
An internationally known author and lecturer, Mike Amundsen travels throughout the United States and Europe consulting and speaking on a wide range of topics including distributed network architecture, Web application development, Cloud computing, and other subjects. His recent work focuses on the role hypermedia plays in creating and maintaining applications that can successfully evolve over time. He has more than a dozen books to his credit and recently contributed to the book "RESTful Web Services Cookbook" (by Subbu Allamaraju). When he is not working, Mike enjoys spending time with his family in Kentucky, USA.
Sam Ruby is a prominent software developer who is a co-chair of the W3C HTML Working Group and has made significant contributions to many of the Apache Software Foundation's open source software projects. He is a Senior Technical Staff Member in the Emerging Technologies Group of IBM.
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Top Customer Reviews
I won't lie, this book is very dry. The subject matter is great for reference, but very difficult to just sit down and read. Throughout RESTful web APIs, the author's are jumping from project to project, illustrating the actual point of having a RESTful API in the first place. From the "don't just use GET", to "DELETE can actually be used for something", they don't pull any punches about what you've been doing wrong with your project to actually make a RESTful API.
I do have to say, I'm going to hold on to this book for reference whenever I am writing a design document. Figuring out your routing is much easier when you have the reference backing of these obviously more brilliant than me developers telling you when you are doing something right.
For entertainment value, I'd give this book a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. As far as useful, meaningful material? 10 out of 10, easily. Pick it up for your next API project, and finally set yourself straight.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As expected from an "ideas" book, the text is peppered with first person thoughts, rhetorical questions, and very strongly held opinions (e.g., "REST beat SOAP" and "JSON beat XML".) If you buy into these, the book will feel natural and even inspired. If you don't, your hackles may get a workout.
Nevertheless, it ultimately does what any good "ideas" book should do - stimulates your thinking.
From a conceptual perspective, this book provides stellar explanations on topics that are must-knows for REST-practitioners. E.g., on the differences between protocol semantics and application semantics; and the relevance of HATEOAS when it comes to the semantic web.
A minor disappointment for me was that the "API" in the title was defined at a higher-level than I'd have liked. At its core, it merely proposes that a new API should not be a custom one-off, but instead should use standards whenever possible. As a result, it focuses on explanations of standards such as those that deal with collections, URI Templates, and hypermedia controls. However, it punts on the more prosaic elements of good REST API design - such as the identification of resources and operations, for a given domain.
This book's contents could also have benefited from better organization. Concepts were spread out geographically, and often needed a lot of paging back and forth to assemble a complete picture.
Despite these minor quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
While this book could be read by a developer at any level, it would be most appreciated by a technical lead or architect who is already familiar with basic REST concepts. Beginners to this technology might be better served by Bill Burke's RESTful Java with Jax-RS - which also covers low level API design adequately. (Note that there is an updated edition due shortly.)
Overall conclusion: I would see this being a good fit for a REST fan who is trying to get even deeper into the proper way to complete their work.
Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book for review as part of O'Reilly blogger program.
It's very clearly written and accessible, and doesn't require too much knowledge to dive into. For reference, I started learning programming around 3 years ago through my current college major.
Here's the Cliffs Notes version:
The problem that the author approaches is that APIs these days are not consistent with one another or even with themselves. This causes several issues:
1) APIs are inflexible. Once you release them, it's very difficult to change them. This is ironic, since HTTP and the web is powerful because of its flexibility.
2) APIs are not machine-readable. You have to read prose documentation to figure out how they work, and every API is different. At the same time, API documentation is often not up to date or non-existent, and it's unscalable to expect all API developers to maintiain complete documentation for all the APIs that they ever work.
3) People create novel, non-standardized APIs for the same general tasks over and over again. There's a staggering amount of repeated work.
The hope is that following standards and imposing structure and metadata in your APIs will one day allow API clients to bridge what the author calls "the semantic gap," which amounts to making an API self-document itself by using standardized idioms and good RESTful web practices, a pattern that the author calls "hypermedia."
The book lays out the problems, solutions, and process of following good API practices clearly, as well as the kind of work that needs to happen to flesh out hypermedia. In this day and age I think anyone who is writing APIs should read this book first, for the betterment of all—programmers, users, and businesses alike.
The maze example used throughout the book is contrived and confusing. It's useful for about the first few chapters, and quickly becomes too simple to reference.
I'm currently in the process of writing a web api, and it would be tremendous if I could have some more complete documents to refer to while I"m writing it.
The content is good, but it i severely lacking concrete illustrations / examples. Some complete examples in the appendix would be very nice.
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