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October 23, 2018 • Smart Resources

Spotlight On: REST API with Tim Tatum


 

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At Smart Resources, we’re extremely proud of the innovative advancements in technology that our consultants work towards each and every day. Our skilled IT professionals work in a variety of sectors with a wide range of technologies. Each month, we sit down with a consultant to have an in-depth conversation about their current project to gain insight on the technology and its capabilities. This month, we’ll be discussing REST API with Tim Tatum!

Name: Tim Tatum

Position: Applications Developer

Years with Smart Resources: 4

Professional background (specifically in regard to REST API):

I have twenty years of web-based application development experience, two years experience using REST API, and fifteen years of AJAX experience (Yes. That’s before it was called AJAX).

Please tell us about REST API and how it’s commonly used:

REST API involves efficiently moving data, real time if needed, from one computer to another. It’s often used in web applications that involve any type of account specific data. It can, however, be used to move enterprise data between platforms.

What originally drew you to working with REST API?

Communications standards are critical for any type of business application. Web-based applications have their own security and performance challenges inherent to the platform. We used to do this type of thing with AJAX and XML or SOAP, but REST API is better. It is a lightweight, flexible approach to meeting those challenges across systems that are built on different technologies.

Why do you enjoy about working with REST API?

Often the “system of record” is owned by one department, but some of the data is needed by another department. Moving that data while retaining the departmental boundaries can be tricky. The efficiencies you can gain can be very rewarding.

This approach has quick development cyclesand has greater flexibility. The fact that you can quickly and easily move data from a Java/dB2 platform to a .NET/SQL Server platform without much effort is nice. In the past that was a lot of trouble.

What challenges have you faced while working with REST API? 

Compared to the previous technologies, none. With one specific implementation, we were forced to use a somewhat cumbersome security model. It required some effort and took some time, but it’s done and it’s effective.

What do you see in the future for REST API? 

Blockchain is a reliable and secure transaction management system. Today, blockchain is associated with cryptocurrencies because that’s the first high profile usage of blockchain. It will be applied to solve many of the security and reliability problems we see today. REST API is a key component of blockchain, so it will “ride the blockchain wave”. Also, you’ll see more binary data being sent in conjunction with REST API.

What is the best piece of advice you have for someone learning about or working with REST API? 

Learn Json basics. Learn relational database theory (avoid natural keys) and how to apply relational theory to Json. Learn to use a Json parsing library associated with your preferred programming language; Newtonsoft for .NET, Jackson or gson for Java.

Do you have any additional advice, anecdotes, or information about the tech that you’d like to share? 

REST API is nothing new. It’s had widespread usage throughout many large organizations for many years – it’s not even leading edge anymore.

Moving data from platform to platform is a way of leveraging your data. Don’t leverage waste. Keep illicit drugs out of your blood vessels, keep sugar out of your gas tank, and keep bad data out of your databases! If you allow bad data into one system then REST API becomes a way of spreading the waste.  Make sure your front ends are designed to keep bad data out and hold people responsible for the quality of their input.

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