How to Use REST API in Mobile App Development

How to Use REST API in Mobile App Development

Adam Morgan

In mobile app development, you can see two divergent trends.  The most common is the mobile-first approach strategy.  This means you will create a website and then build your product in either iOS or Android.  Using this strategy means you will push a single version and tackle new markets further down the line.  The other emerging trend is an API-first approach.  Here, the API will be created first.  Using this newer strategy allows the apps and website on various different platforms to be built on top of the same basic conditions.  Using an API-first solution means you will quickly be able to reach subscribers on a number of different devices.

Here, we’re talking you through the basics of how to implement REST API in mobile app development.

What is REST?

Representational State Transfer or REST is lightweight and HTTP based.  REST runs on web servers, much like standard sites do.  However, instead of delivering in HTML, any data on display will have minimal formatting.  REST is also browsable, so developers can quickly modify and check that any coding is correct, as only the data will be displayed in the browser.  It is often regarded as a safer method of providing services or data access.  REST is also platform and language independent.  You will have the ability to write a REST API with any languages associated with website creation, such as PHP.  In REST architecture, there are four commonly defined methods.  These include create, read, update and delete (CRUD) methods.  You can also add more specialised methods as well.

API Endpoints

If you’re unfamiliar with the term API endpoints, basically, they describe available operations on data exposed by the service.  Put simply, you can think of API endpoints as urls that offer data or a url where you have the ability to submit data.  A number of data formats can be used, but the most common tend to be JSON and XML.

Customizing Your REST API

If you choose to use JSON, default options do not include custom fields.  However, you will be happy to know that by making use of a simple filter or two, you will be able to include the custom fields in the exposed JSON object.  For example, you can use custom fields to include preferred sub-headings and post content in more than one language.

Using REST API enables you to write once and compile to multiple platforms.  You can then use WordPress as the backend, which means it will be easy for you or your client to update the content of the mobile app.  Plus, customizing your REST API endpoints also means you can send just the data that your app requires without any kind of bloat.

If you’re currently thinking about building your own mobile app, it’s important to think about whether you want to follow a mobile-first approach or an API-first approach.  An API-first approach will enable you to reach subscribers across a number of different mobile platforms with ease.

Do you have any experience using REST API in mobile app development?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Adam Morgan

Author Adam Morgan

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