Best Practices for Designing RESTful APIs: A Developer’s Guide 🚀

Devang Tomar
6 min readSep 10


As a software developer, you likely encounter RESTful APIs frequently. REST (Representational State Transfer) is an architectural style for designing networked applications, and adhering to its principles is crucial for creating scalable, maintainable, and efficient web services. In this blog post, we’ll delve into best practices for designing REST endpoints, complete with examples, to help you build robust and user-friendly APIs.

Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

1. Keep it Simple ✅

When designing your REST API, simplicity is key. Your API naming should be self-describing and easy to understand. Avoid complex query parameters and opt for clear and concise resource names.

For example:

✅ /api/users/12345
❌ /api?type=user&id=12345

2. Use Plural Nouns for Naming RESTful URIs 📛

To maintain consistency and improve intuitiveness, use plural nouns to represent resources in your endpoint names. Avoid using verbs or actions, as the HTTP methods already convey the action. Examples:

✅ GET Users -> /api/users
✅ GET User account -> /api/users/{userId}
✅ GET User’s rights -> /api/users/{userId}/rights
❌ GET Users -> /api/getAllUsers

3. Stick to Standard HTTP Methods 🤌

For CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update, and Delete), always use standard HTTP methods. This ensures consistency across your API and helps developers understand your endpoints quickly. Examples:

POST /users         // Create a new user
GET /users // Get all users
GET /users/{id} // Get a specific user
PUT /users/{id} // Update a specific user
DELETE /users/{id} // Delete a specific user

4. Never use CRUD function names in URIs 🔗

Avoid using URIs to indicate CRUD functions. URIs should only be used to uniquely identify resources, not actions upon them. Examples:

❌ /api/getUsers
❌ /api/getUserRights
✅ GET /api/users
✅ GET /api/users/12345/rights

5. Use forward slash (/) to indicate hierarchical relationships ⚔️

The forward slash (/) character indicates a hierarchical relationship between resources in the URI path. Examples:


6. Use Hyphens (-) ⏸️

To improve the readability of long path segments, use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_). Examples:


7. Embrace Query Parameters for Flexibility 💪

Instead of creating new APIs for sorting, filtering, and pagination, enable these capabilities in your resource collection API using query parameters. This keeps your API clean and flexible. Example:

GET /users?gender=male&age=25–35&sort=age,desc&page=1&size=10

8. Versioning Matters: Be Consistent 🆚

Include the version number in the URL or as a request header to maintain backward compatibility and allow for smooth transitions when making changes to your API. Examples:

// URL versioning
GET /api/v1/users

// Header versioning
GET /api/users
Accept: application/vnd.example.v1+json

9. Communicate with the Right Status Codes ❌

Use the correct HTTP status codes to inform clients about the outcome of their requests.

This helps developers handle errors and understand API call results effectively. Examples:

- 200 OK: Successful GET or PUT requests
- 201 Created: Successful POST requests
- 204 No Content: Successful DELETE requests
- 400 Bad Request: Invalid client request
- 401 Unauthorized: Request requires authentication
- 403 Forbidden: Client lacks permission
- 404 Not Found: Requested resource not found
- 500 Internal Server Error: Server-side error

10. Boost Discoverability with HATEOAS ⏩

Implement Hypermedia As The Engine Of Application State (HATEOAS) to provide links to related resources in API responses.

This improves discoverability and enables developers to navigate your API with ease. Example:

GET /users/123
"id": 123,
"name": "John Doe",
"links": [
"rel": "self",
"href": "/users/123"
"rel": "edit",
"href": "/users/123/edit"
"rel": "delete",
"href": "/users/123"

11. Comprehensive Documentation: A Must-Have 📃

An API is only as good as its documentation. Clear, consistent, and interactive documentation is crucial for developers to understand and work effectively with your API. Utilize tools like Swagger or API Blueprint to generate comprehensive documentation for your endpoints.

12. Authentication and Authorization

Implement proper authentication and authorization mechanisms to secure your RESTful APIs. Use industry-standard protocols like OAuth 2.0 or JWT (JSON Web Tokens) to authenticate and authorize client requests. This ensures that only authorized users can access protected resources.

@app.route('/api/users', methods=['GET'])
def get_users():
# Logic to retrieve users
return jsonify(users)

@app.route('/api/users', methods=['POST'])
def create_user():
# Logic to create a new user
return jsonify(user)

13. Error Handling ⚠️

Handle errors gracefully by providing meaningful error messages and appropriate HTTP status codes. Include error details in the response body to assist developers in troubleshooting. Use consistent error formats across your API to make error handling easier for clients.

“error”: {
“code”: 404,
“message”: “Resource not found”,
“details”: “The requested resource could not be found.”

14. Pagination 📄

When dealing with large collections of resources, implement pagination to improve performance and reduce the amount of data transferred. Use query parameters like `page` and `size` to control the number of results returned per page and navigate through the collection.

@app.route(‘/api/users’, methods=[‘GET’])
def get_users():
page = request.args.get(‘page’, default=1, type=int)
size = request.args.get(‘size’, default=10, type=int)

# Logic to retrieve paginated users
return jsonify(users)

15. Caching 💵

Leverage caching mechanisms to improve the performance of your API.

Use appropriate caching headers like `Cache-Control` and `ETag` to enable client-side caching and reduce unnecessary network requests.

@app.route(‘/api/users’, methods=[‘GET’])
def get_users():
# Logic to retrieve users
return jsonify(users)

16. Input Validation 🔠

Validate and sanitize user input to prevent security vulnerabilities like SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. Implement server-side input validation to ensure that only valid and safe data is processed by your API.

@app.route(‘/api/users’, methods=[‘POST’])
def create_user():
username = request.json.get(‘username’)
email = request.json.get(‘email’)

# Validate input
if not username or not email:
return jsonify(error=’Invalid input’), 400

# Logic to create a new user
return jsonify(user)

17. Rate Limiting 🚤

Implement rate limiting to protect your API from abuse and ensure fair usage. Set limits on the number of requests a client can make within a specific time period to prevent excessive usage and maintain API performance.

@app.route(‘/api/users’, methods=[‘GET’])
def get_users():
# Logic to retrieve users
return jsonify(users)

18. API Versioning 🔢

Plan for future changes by designing your API with versioning in mind. Use versioning techniques like URL versioning or request header versioning to introduce breaking changes without impacting existing clients.

# URL versioning
@app.route(‘/api/v1/users’, methods=[‘GET’])
def get_users_v1():
# Logic to retrieve users
return jsonify(users)

# Header versioning
@app.route('/api/users', methods=['GET'])
def get_users_v1():
# Logic to retrieve users
return jsonify(users)

19. Continuous Testing and Monitoring 🧪

Regularly test and monitor your API to ensure its reliability and performance. Implement automated tests, monitor API metrics, and use logging and error tracking tools to identify and resolve issues promptly.

# Automated tests using pytest
def test_get_users():
response = client.get(‘/api/users’)
assert response.status_code == 200
assert response.json[‘users’] is not None

# Monitoring API metrics using Prometheus
from prometheus_flask_exporter import PrometheusMetrics
metrics = PrometheusMetrics(app)'app_info', 'Application Information', version='1.0.0')

# Logging and error tracking using Sentry
import sentry_sdk

Now go ahead and build amazing RESTful APIs that developers will love to use! 💪💻

Conclusion 💭

Designing RESTful APIs requires careful consideration of various factors, including simplicity, naming conventions, standard HTTP methods, versioning, error handling, and security.

By following these additional best practices, you can create APIs that are not only functional but also scalable, secure, and well-documented. Happy API designing! 🌟👨‍💻

Connect with Me on social media 📲

🐦 Follow me on Twitter: devangtomar7
🔗 Connect with me on LinkedIn: devangtomar
📷 Check out my Instagram: be_ayushmann
Ⓜ️ Checkout my blogs on Medium: Devang Tomar
#️⃣ Checkout my blogs on Hashnode: devangtomar
🧑‍💻 Checkout my blogs on devangtomar



Devang Tomar

DevOps and Developer, automating like nobody's business. I write about Software, coding and other amazing stuff 🚀💻