REST APIs Naming – Beyond CRUD

Not planning to write yet another article for best practices for REST APIs as the topic is covered multiple times already. What better than Google’s reference document –

Here I would like to discuss some cases which are not straightforward. But before going there it makes sense to revise some basic concepts.

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. One can manage state of a resource.

What is a resource?


The key abstraction of information in REST is a resource. Any information that we can name can be a resource. For example, a REST resource can be a document or image, a temporal service, a collection of other resources, or a non-virtual object (e.g., a person).

The state of the resource, at any particular time, is known as the resource representation.

The resource representations are consist of:

  • the data
  • the metadata describing the data
  • and the hypermedia links that can help the clients in transition to the next desired state.

When we say REST can help to manage resources (CRUD operations), it is done by following methods

  • POST for Create
  • GET for Read
  • PUT and Patch for update
  • DELETE for Delete

There are other methods like options and head, but we will focus on core CRUD operations mentioned above.

To get started lets take a simple use case, where we have a resource Employee

Generic URL format will look like /{baseurl}/{service or microservice}/{resource}

For example

  • GET list of the employees GET /employees
  • Get specific data GET /employees/{id}
  • Create a new object POST /employees
  • Update an employee object Patch or PUT /employees/{id}
  • Delete the object DELETE /employees/{id}

Now that was easy part

Let us talk about some complex cases now, which are not straightforward to fit into REST naming conventions.

Fetch Related resources for the object


Controller verb for a special operation


Complex resources representation

only get specific orders (dashes are acceptable) 

Fetch only speific columns

/employees/?fields={name, department, salary}

Complex searches (reports)


Complex listing


Above are some of the acceptable practices. Users can modify as per their needs.