Introduction to the Web API

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Presentation on introducing Web APIs to Communitech P2P Web Developers group on Feb 20, 2014

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  • Describes a method for a client to communicate with a server
    If you ever access a website, you are already using REST
    When you access a page, you are GETting it.
  • Easy to consume by many platforms
    Lightweight, payload is almost strictly content
    Self-documenting
    Flexible for many environments, including firewalls and load-balancers
    Just “works” for security and identity frameworks
    Server and consumer agnostic
  • Both represent the same data, albeit in different ways
    JSON is smaller, but with compression, they are ~equivalent
    XML can be validated (XML Schema), stylized (XSL), traversed (XPath), queried (XQuery), transformed (XSLT), and namespaced
    JSON has no formally recognized equivalents, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • I can reasonably guess functionality without needing documentation
    TTFHW – Time to first hello world
  • Introduction to the Web API

    1. 1. An Introduction into the Web API Brad Genereaux | @integratorbrad | about.me/integratorbrad | hcintegrations.ca Web Developers P2P : February 2014
    2. 2. Housekeeping • About Me - Brad Genereaux – Healthcare and API developer – Integration Architect at Agfa Healthcare – Blogger about all the API things • Discussion and questions – Ask anytime, or at the end
    3. 3. Topics • • • • • API REST Security Web Examples
    4. 4. The API Application Programming Interface
    5. 5. What is an API? • Methods to access data and workflow from an application without using the application itself
    6. 6. API Example vs
    7. 7. Why an API? • Not all users are the same – Some want: – Some want / need: – And their needs and wants are ever shifting
    8. 8. An API Stack GUI (front-end) API (middle tier) Data Sources (back-end)
    9. 9. … sounds like a good framework for Web …
    10. 10. The REST REpresentational State Transfer
    11. 11. What is REST? • Architectural style (not a standard!) • Client server model • Stateless – Idempotency • Cacheable • Layered System • Uniform interface
    12. 12. Source: https://www.ics.uci.edu/~fielding/pubs/dissertation/fielding_dissertation.pdf
    13. 13. Who RESTs? • • • • • • • Facebook Twitter Google LinkedIn Netflix Evernote Etc etc
    14. 14. Why REST? • • • • • Scalable Fault-tolerant Recoverable Secure Loosely coupled
    15. 15. What do I need to REST? Clients • Browsers • Mobile Apps • Desktop Apps Servers • “Capable of HTTP” – – – – – – Java-based .Net-based PHP Ruby Perl Etc.
    16. 16. Three levels of REST • Level 1 : Resources • Level 2 : Verbs • Level 3 : HATEOAS
    17. 17. Resources, Level 1 REST • • • • /users /users/bob /users/bob/tweets /users/bob/tweets/1
    18. 18. Verbs, Level 2 REST • CRUD
    19. 19. What is CRUD? • Standard database operations: C reate R ead U pdate D elete
    20. 20. Verbs, Level 2 REST • CRUD • GET /tweets (as opposed to /givemethetweets) • POST /tweets (as opposed to /createnewtweet) • PUT /tweets/1 (as opposed to /updatetweet/1) • DELETE /tweets/1 (as opposed to /removetweet/1)
    21. 21. RESTful Methods GET Collection URI (such as http://a.com/items/) Element URI (such as http://a.com/items/17) PUT POST DELETE List the items in the collection and some metadata about the items Replace the entire collection with another collection Create a new entry in the collection, and return the reference Delete all the items in the collection Retrieve a specific item in the collection Replace a specific item in the collection; if it doesn't exist, create it Not generally used Delete the specific item in the collection • There are other methods less used (HEAD, OPTIONS, PATCH) for other purposes • Representations of an item are specified by the media type (MIME type) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_state_transfer
    22. 22. HATEOAS, Level 3 REST • Hypermedia as the engine of application state "ids" : [ 12345678, 87654321, 11223344 ] "links": [ { "rel": "UserInfo", "href": "https://.../user/12345678" }, { "rel": "Tweets", "href": "https://.../tweet/87654321" }, { "rel": "Messages", "href": "https://.../msgs/11223344" } ]
    23. 23. Data Formats (XML and JSON)  XML (135 characters): <tweets> <tweet type="text" id="1"> <text>REST is great!</text> </tweet> <tweet type="text" id="2"> <text>APIs forever!</text> </tweet> </tweets>  JSON (109 characters): { "tweets": [ {"type": "text", "id": "1", "text": "REST is great!"}, {"type": "text", "id": "2", "text": "APIs forever!"} ] }  XML can be validated (XML Schema), stylized (XSL), traversed (XPath), queried (XQuery), transformed (XSLT), and namespaced  JSON is easier
    24. 24. What makes for good REST? • Self-documenting • Nouns in path, verbs by HTTP • Complexity under the “?” – i.e., /tweets/?contains=API • Errors use HTTP error code mechanism • As simple as possible, but no simpler
    25. 25. REST Alternatives • SOAP (simple object access protocol) • Javascript • XML-RPC • See discussion at http://www.slideshare.net/jmusser/j-musser-ap
    26. 26. Important : Know your TTFHW (Time to First Hello World) !
    27. 27. API Worst Practices Source: http://www.slideshare.net/jmusser/j-musser-apishotnotgluecon2012 10. Poor error handling 9. Ignoring HTTP rules 8. Exposing your underlying data model 7. Security complexity 6. Unexpected release cycles 5. Poor developer experience 4. Expecting an MVC to give you a great API 3. Assuming if you build it, they will come 2. Inadequate support 1. Poor documentation
    28. 28. The Security
    29. 29. Authentication and Authorization • Authentication : Who • Authorization : What they are allowed to do • Not your job, but your responsibility
    30. 30. Security Frameworks • OAuth – Authorizing services • OpenID – Facebook, Google • LDAP – Enterprise authentication
    31. 31. Application Security Threats Input Validation Authentication Session Management Cryptography Authorization Exception Management Configuration Management Parameter Manipulation Sensitive Information Auditing and Logging Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_security
    32. 32. SQL Injection Consider the following pseudo-code: String topic = request.getParameter(“topic"); SQLCommand sql = new SQLCommand("select * from tweets where topic like ‘" + topic + "%’") So what happens if the parameter is: – API – REST – h3ck0rz’; drop table tweets; -Source: http://xkcd.com/327/
    33. 33. The Web Client-side Access to REST
    34. 34. HTML5 + CSS • “HyperText Markup Language” – Characterized by the DOM (document object model) Completely ubiquitous across the Internet <html> <body> <h1>Hello World</h1> </body> </html> • “Cascading Style Sheets” – Allows for advanced stylization of content – Example: .giant { font-size: 72px; color: blue; }
    35. 35. JavaScript • • • • Multi-paradigm weakly-typed scripting language Used most often hand-in-hand with HTML Not Java, at all (syntax based on C) Example: alert (“Hello World!”); • Able to manipulate the DOM and interact with the browser environment
    36. 36. AJAX • “Asynchronous JavaScript and XML” • Group of technologies that allow for robust client interactions without reloading web pages – HTML and CSS for presentation – DOM for display and interaction of data – XML for data interchange – XMLHttpRequest for asynchronous communication – JavaScript to bring these technologies together • AJAX is the key to consuming REST
    37. 37. jQuery • “jQuery is a fast and concise JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development.” • Example: $(“#h1”).html(“Hello World!”); • jQuery tests against many browser platforms and solves a lot of the problems that supporting many platforms introduces
    38. 38. Calling REST with jQuery Verb • Use an AJAX Call Resource $.ajax({ type : "GET", url : "http://a.com/tweets", data : {"contains" : "API"}, dataType : "json", success : function(data){ alert ("Results: " + data); } }); Query parameters Media type
    39. 39. Tips • Use “curl” to simulate calls from your command line • Use Chrome debug tools or Firebug to watch traffic and test your Javascript • Use libraries – no need to reinvent the wheel
    40. 40. Other Frameworks • • • • UI Frameworks (Bootstrap, Foundation) MVC Frameworks (Angular, Backbone) Tooling (Yeoman, Lineman) Documentation (Apiary, Swagger) • No shortage of options
    41. 41. The Examples
    42. 42. Some REST API Examples • • • • • Facebook Twitter If This, Than That Twilio Demo
    43. 43. Facebook Graph API • Every object has an ID: • Objects can be searched: • Objects can be updated:
    44. 44. Twitter REST API
    45. 45. If This, Then That • API Integration Website - http://ifttt.com/
    46. 46. Twilio
    47. 47. Demo
    48. 48. Need more REST? • Programmable Web http://programmableweb.com John Musser’s presentations: http://www.slideshare.net/jmusser • Crafting Interfaces that Developers Love http://offers.apigee.com/api-design-ebook-rr/ • API Craft Google Group https:// groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/api-craft
    49. 49. Discussion - Questions

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