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REST (REpresentational State Transfer) is an inter-operable protocol for services that is more lightweight than SOAP. REST and RESTful often implies very strict and specific rules and conventions.

HTTP methods

Usage of HTTP methods
HTTP Method RESTful Meaning Recommendations


  • Read single element.

  • Search on an entity (with parametrized url)

  • Read a single element.


  • Replace entity data.

  • Replace entire collection (typically not supported)

  • Not recommended


  • Create a new element in the collection

  • Create or update an element in the collection.

  • Search on an entity (parametrized post body)

  • Bulk deletion.


  • Delete an entity.

  • Delete an entire collection (typically not supported)

  • Delete an entity.

  • Delete an entire collection (typically not supported)

Rationals behind the differences to a RESTful API

The table above shows some differences between the RESTful meaning of the HTTP methods and the recommended way of implementation, that results from a lot of lessons learned in various projects.


  • GET-requests do have some limitations.

  • URL’s are limited in length which makes them inappropriate for an unknown number of search parameters.

  • Server’s might log the URL’s which could lead to logging of sensitive data, when a lot of parameters are used.

Recommendation on search implementation:

This keeps the API consistent for all request filtering for certain entities.


The verb PUT does not directly shout update, which can lead to discussions around the usage of PUT and regular confusions. As a pragmatic solution to this reoccurring problem the recommendation is to not use PUT at all. The difference between creating of an entity and updating of an entity does not need an own verb. Instead the existence of an entity identifier in the POST-request body identifies an UPDATE. Whereas the absence of the identifier in the in the body marks it’s creation.


In addition to the already mentioned tasks, the POST-request is responsible for BULK deletions. DELETE should not have a body and the URLs are limited in their length. Therefore, there’s a limit in number of entities that can be bulk deleted. To stay consistent across bulk deletions independent of their size, it is recommended to use POST-requests and send the entities marked for bulk deletion in the body.


For URLs following rules are defined: * Only lower case letters * Hyphens separate words

A basic URL should be build up like this. This basic part will be referenced as <url-prefix> in following examples: https://<host>:<port>/<app>/[services]/[<service protocol>]/[<business component>]/[<version>]/

URL-prefix Placeholder Description


The name of the application. In case the host name already identifies the name of the application, it is redundant to add the name of the app to the URL.


services can be written into the path to differentiate the path to APIs from e.g. static content. In case no differentiation is needed and will probably never be, it can be left out.

<service protocol>

In case multiple protocols might be supported, it makes sense to distinguish them e.g. rest or grpc.

<business component>

In case the service is divided into multiple business components, it’s beneficial to put the business component into the URL. In case of microservices for example the buisness component would be often redundant to the app name.


In case versioning of the API is planned, the version should be made available in the URL from the very first version on.

For operations in REST the following types of URLs are distinguished:

Collection URL

Build from the rest service URL by appending the name of a collection, which is typically the name of an entity. Example: <url-prefix>/myentity

Element URL

Identifies a single entity within the collection. Build from a collection URL by appending the element ID. Example: <url-prefix>/myentity/42

Business Operation URLs

The business operations (processing, calculation, advanced search, etc.) is appended to the collection URL. Business operations should always be used in combination with POST. Example: <url-prefix>/myentity/search

Always use singular forms and avoid confusions (except for the rare cases where no singular exists).
An entity that should be provided with a different structure should become an own collection instead of appending the details to the entity URL. <url-prefix>/myentity-with-details/42 instead of <url-prefix>/myentity/42/with-details.

A complete example could look like this:

Status Codes

REST Media Types

  • The payload of a REST service can be in any format as REST by itself does not specify this.

  • The most established ones in practice are XML (application/xml) and JSON (application/json).

  • The recommendation is JSON, if not defined by API consumers.

Do not mix formats in the same service. If this should be necessary document the reason.

Concrete examples

Get a single resource

  • HTTP Method: GET

  • URL example:

For loading of a single resource, embed the identifier (e.g. 42) of the resource in the URL.

The response contains the resource in JSON format, using a JSON object at the top-level.

Get a collection of resources

  • HTTP Method: GET

  • URL example:

The response contains all entities of the collection in JSON format, using a JSON object at the top-level, and the actual collection underneath a result key.

Create or Update a resource

  • HTTP Method: POST

  • URL example:

The resource will be passed via JSON in the request body. If updating an existing resource, include the resource’s identifier in the JSON and not in the URL, in order to avoid ambiguity.

If saving was successful, the updated product (e.g. with assigned ID or updated modification counter) is returned.

Search for a specific resource

  • HTTP Method: POST

  • URL example:

In order to differentiate from an unparameterized load, the subpath search is introduced. The parameters are passed via JSON in the request body.

Delete a resource

  • HTTP Method: DELETE

  • URL example:

For deletion of a single resource, embed the identifier of the resource in the URL.


  • Spring

  • Quarkus

In spring the following guides give a good overview on how to use REST in spring boot:

For spring boot the following dependencies are necessary

group id artifact id



For Quarkus the RESTeasy implementation is used, as recommended by Quarkus.

group id artifact id