No Time For a REST

Phew, it’s been another red hot, football-filled week here in the UK. I’m sure for some of you, 29¬įC is positively chilly. But for me, it’s been baking. Not helped by an evil selection of naughty wasps making camp outside my window, forcing me to work without fresh air. Lovely.

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t tune in for weather updates, or for my views on the Sports Ball. Let’s get back to the good stuff.

Do You GraphQL?

One of the most interesting bits of tech about at the moment, in my opinion, is GraphQL.

GraphQL, briefly, is an alternative to REST. The main difference between ‘REST’ and GraphQL being that we – as consumers – can specify exactly which bits of data we want / need, and the server returns just the things we care about, and nothing more.

Also, you only need one endpoint with GraphQL, as often opposed to many with ‘REST’.

Now, I put REST in inverted commas as the typical RESTful API’s that I both create, and work with, are not truly RESTful. Pragmatism, and all that. That’s why I’ve more typically started referring to these types of API’s as JSON APIs.

But I digress.

Like every new piece of tech, there are often a bunch of advocates shouting loudly, particularly on sites like Twitter, about how if you’re not using GraphQL then you’re basically a dinosaur.

how-to-graphqlThen recently – I think maybe a few weeks ago – I came across a really interesting website about GraphQL. It’s called How To GraphQL.

Why I like the site is that there are some generic introduction tutorials, and then some more language specific tutorials. There’s React for the front end, along with Node and Elixir on the back end. No PHP, mind. More on that in a second. I chose the Elixir tutorial, and enjoyed playing around with it.

After playing around with the Elixir back end implementation I’d created, I wondered how this might translate into PHP. I was already aware that the API Platform can support GraphQL so used that as a starting point. I kept my implementation identical (well, as close as) to the setup in the How To GraphQL Elixir tutorial. The idea being that I could switch out the two, and the front end shouldn’t care.

It turned out to be a really interesting exercise. I’d be happy to share my code if anyone has any interest? There’s nothing fancy there, but it was a fun learning experience for me.

What I did find most interesting was in that Dunglas, the creator of the API Platform (and many other cool things – very clever guy, well worth following), isn’t quite the GraphQL advocate I expected. These two tweet threads are interesting reading:

and:

I’d be really interested to hear about your experiences with GraphQL.

Video Update

This week saw three new videos added to the site:

GET’ting Multiple Resources [API Platform]

I mentioned last week that in many ways I’ve been doing the API Platform a disservice.

In taking as many videos as I have to show a single end point API I may have made things look more difficult than they really are.

We’ve used this setup as an excuse to cover some interesting, and useful / commonly needed things such as customisation of your route paths, and defining custom operations (the Health check).

If you don’t need to customise anything, getting an API up and running using the API Platform is really remarkably rapid.

All that said, I stand by this approach. We’ve played around with some cool features. This is all stuff that will help you in the real world.

PUT to Update Existing Data [API Platform]

The API Platform takes an interesting approach to the process of updating existing data.

There’s no implementation of PATCH¬†, the most controversial / complex HTTP Verb. And that’s fine. Less controversy is always a good thing, imo. Besides which, the more I work with the front end, the less I find any use for PATCH¬† anyway. Typically I will have the full resource, so making full updates to that resource is easy enough.

We cover a little potential gotcha in the way that API Platform differs from the Symfony 4 JSON API, and Symfony 4 with FOSRESTBundle approaches. This is in the status code returned by the API Platform, and why they may choose to do this.

DELETE to Remove Data [API Platform]

Adding an implementation for DELETE¬† is probably the easiest of the whole lot. This is partly because we’ve done all the hard work already. But also because deleting stuff just works. There’s very little to it.

Now, in the real world you’d probably want to restrict who can and can’t delete, and things get a little more complex. But the underlying operation itself is very straightforward.

There’s just one thing left to do with our API Platform setup, and that’s handle the error paths. We’ll get on to that in the final video in this part of the series.

Live Stream Update

I’ve recorded the first “live stream”. It’s on my laptop, waiting for a touch of editing. I need to mask a few bits of config due to security reasons.

I also hit on a proper issue. The domain I was planning to launch under has expired. And worse, because I let it expire and didn’t renew it, it’s gone into grace period. And now Namecheap want $108 to reactivate it. Silly me.

Ok, so this may delay the launch of the thing in the real world. It’s not going to stop me writing the code. I wanted to get this video out this week. It will slip into next week. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), I have a couple of long train journeys on Monday and Tuesday evening next week. The perfect time to edit videos – even if it does draw a few funny looks.

As a reminder, the live stream stuff will not be getting a write up. These will be video only, but you’re more than welcome to raise questions, or ask to see more detail etc. I’ll share all that via the forum.

Ok, that about wraps it up from me this. As ever, have a great weekend, and happy coding.

Chris

FOSRESTBundle for REST API

FOSRESTBundle is a tool to help you in the job of creating a REST API with Symfony2. Let’s take a closer look at what it all really means and where to download it and get started.

What is FOS?

FOS stands for Friends of Symfony. It’s a¬†group of people who begun collaborating on the KNP Labs User Bundle. They decided to create a dedicated¬†space for Bundles that they maintained as a group. Over time this has led to many more popular bundles being created via the group.

Check out the Friends of Symfony GitHub to see the bundles available.

What is REST?

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. It is resource-based rather than action-based. In a RESTful API, we’re talking about things instead of actions.

REST typically runs over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and has several architectural constraints:

It decouples consumers from producers.

It leverages a layered system.

It leverages a uniform interface.

Able to leverage a cache.

Stateless existence.

Features of the FOSRESTBundle

The FOSRESTBundle gives us great tools to allow the quick development of RESTful API’s and¬†applications using Symfony2.¬†Once you have confidence in using it, you’ll quickly find so many other possibilities become available including apps, Angular JS front-ends and as well as other opportunities.

Some key features include:

  • Generate URLs following REST conventions using a custom route loader.
  • Accept header format negotiation.
  • It has an exception controller used for sending HTTP status codes.
  • RESTful decoding of HTTP request body and accept headers.
  • ¬†View layer for allowing output and format agnostic controllers.

Benefits of FOSRESTBundle

REST is likely to keep growing as more and more businesses seek open, well-defined interfaced for developing applications and infrastructure services. It’s very useful and worthwhile to learn.

Advantages of learning REST include:

  • It is designed for using over Open Internet/Web. It’s a better choice for web scale applications and cloud-based platforms compared to SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)¬†and is often the choice for the architecture of internet services these days.
  • RESTful web services are easily leveraged by most tools.
  • REST forbids conversational state, meaning we can scale very wide with the addition of server nodes behind a load balancer.

Getting Started with FOSRESTBundle:

You can find the FOSRESTBundle here. Installation is a quick one step process. There are six main sections on the download page to look over before you begin. Check out the config references too, and there are also some example applications too that can be used as a guideline.

FOSRESTBundle

Ready to learn to code a RESTful API?

In our RESTful API course using FOSRESTBundle, you can watch and learn how to set up, configure and implement a REST API. Sometimes it’s easier watching than trying to figure stuff out for yourself, plus you can also ask questions!

The course covers all of the basics such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE. This is along with handling related data collections, leveraging the Symfony2 Forms component, and very importantly, this is all done using test driven development techniques.¬†Let’s get cracking and we hope to see you on the inside!