Within a short span of time, RESTful APIs have become an integral part of website and web application development. While developing web services, most web developers nowadays opt for these application programming interfaces (APIs) developed based on REpresentational State Transfer (REST) architectural style. Unlike conventional architectural styles, RESTful API facilitates data exchange between web applications through an open and stateless protocol – HTTP. It further uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE data.
The web developers can write RESTful APIs in a number of programming languages including PHP and various PHP Frameworks. Here is a brief comparison of various PHP Frameworks. Though one of the youngest ones, Laravel has emerged as a good framework for PHP developers to work in the recent years. The PHP programmers can build RESTful APIs using Laravel. Laravel simplifies development and testing of RESTful APIs by providing a number of robust features – real-time communication, job queue, and API authentication. But you, as a PHP programmer, must follow a sequence of steps in building Restful APIs with Laravel quickly.
Important Steps in Building RESTful APIs with Laravel
Know Appropriate Use of HTTP Verbs
As noted earlier, RESTful APIs leverage a number of request methods defined by HTTP. You have to use the specific HTTP verbs to perform the desired action on specific resources. Hence, you must understand the use of important HTTP verbs – GET, POST, PUT and DELETE clearly. While developing a RESTful API with Laravel, create resources through POST and retrieve resources through GET. At the same time, you have to use PUT to update resources and DELETE to remove resources. It is always important to use the HTTP verbs in the most appropriate way.
Set up Laravel Framework
If you are yet to install Laravel, it is advisable to install the web framework through the robust PHP dependency manager – Composer. After installing Laravel on a development server, you need to spend some time to understand its folder structure. The features provided by Laravel will enable you to create simple RESTful APIs without putting extra time and effort.
Add Endpoints that Respond to Specific HTTP Verbs
You can use Closures to create end points for various resources by modifying the app/routes.php file. You can even follow the same procedure to create additional end points that respond to GET requests. Also, you can make the end points respond to PUT requests simply by replacing Route::get with Route::post. Similarly, you can create end points that respond to other HTTP methods simply by specifying the exact Route. Laravel even allows you to create end points that do not respond to any specific HTTP methods.
Make Resources Respond to HTTP Methods
In addition to creating end points, you also need to make the resources respond to the HTTP methods. Laravel enables you to create new resources directly in storage programmatically. You can even write code to make the resources respond to specific HTTP methods. However, Laravel allows you to create resources that do not respond to any HTTP method. You can take advantage of Artisan command line tool to specific the resources that do not respond to any HTTP method by creating controllers. You can even run specific commands to make a route respond to specific actions.
Perform API Authentication
After implementing the RESTful API on your development server, you have to focus on implementing authentication. Laravel allows you to implement authentication in a number of ways. For instance, you can implement simple authentication through HTTP Basic authentication. At the same time, you also have option to create filters that will be implemented each time the applications handles specific requests to names routes. You can even leverage Laravel’s authentication class ensure that the resources are being accessed only by authorized users.
On the whole, the Laravel PHP programmer can use Laravel to develop and test RESTful APIs without putting extra time and effort. But he must follow the sequence of steps properly to accelerate RESTful API development. Laravel is continuously evolving and adding new features with every build. For example, there is a lot of difference between Laravel 5 and Laravel 4 in terms of features and enhancements. The developers must leverage the features provided by the latest version of Laravel to create robust RESTful APIs in a short amount of time.