What are Salesforce Rest APIs and other APIs?
When developing APIs, it can be overwhelming to know which API to use and when. This article should help make heads and tails of the Salesforce APIs, specifically the REST API and Endpoints.
Salesforce offers a vacuity of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow developers to extend the functionality of the Salesforce platform. Using APIS you can integrate Salesforce with third-party applications, automate your business processes, and create custom solutions.
Key Salesforce APIs
Keep reading for a brief summary of the purpose of each API.
This API allows you to access and manipulate your Salesforce data using standard HTTP methods. It can return data in JSON or XML format and is usually used when building web and mobile applications that require interaction with Salesforce.
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) provides a comprehensive set of operations for interacting with your Salesforce data. This API is suitable if you need to integrate enterprise-level systems and applications.
This API is designed to handle a large volume of data so you can perform bulk data loading, Using this API you can load, query, and delete data which makes it efficient to manage your dataset.
The Metadata API will enable developers to create, retrieve, update, or delete custom metadata. It’s usually used to deploy customizations in Salesforce.
You can use this API to receive real-time notifications about changes to your Salesforce data. If your application requires responses to real-time events and updates then this is the API to implement.
Chatter REST API
To integrate Salesforce’s social collaboration form Chatter into your applications, make sure you use the Chatter REST API to access feeds, groups, users, and other social collaboration elements.
Salesforce’s programming language is called Apex, using Apex you can build RESTful web services, and is useful if you need to expose custom logic and data from Salesforce.
This API provides pragmatic access to metadata and developer tools. These are commonly used if you need to build development tools and applications for Salesforce administrators and developers.
Using this API you can embed external web applications within your Salesforce. It is used for creating seamlessly integrated user experiences that combine Salesforce data with external web applications.
Einstein Platform APIs
Einstein provides APIs for artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities which allows you to build predictive and analytic features into your applications.
This may not be a traditional Salesforce API, the Heroku Connect service allows you to sync data between Salesforce and Heroku. Heroku is a platform as a service for building and deploying your applications.
You can implement these APIs to extend and customize your Salesforce to meet your specific needs. They can be used to integrate with other systems, automate business processes, and create tailored user experiences.
What is REST API?
So now that you have a general understanding of what a REST API can do, let’s dive into the nitty gritty. Representational State Transfer (REST) is a style implemented when designing networked applications. RESTful APIs conform to the principles and constraints of REST. These principles were created by Roy Fielding in his doctoral dissertation in 2000 and have emerged as the popular approach to building web services and APIs.
Characteristics and Principles of REST APIs
We’ve summarized the key principles and characteristics of REST APIs.
Each client request to a server must contain all the required information to fully understand and process the request. You should ensure that the server does not rely on prior request information from the same client.
Your client and server should be separate and independent entities, ensuring separation between the two entities allows for greater flexibility and and scalability in the architecture.
Your RESTful APIs should have a consistent and predictable interface. You can achieve this by using standard HTTP methods for performing CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations on your resources. The resources should be identified using URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers).
Everything is a resource when it comes to REST and the resources should be uniquely identifiable via a URI. These resources can represent data objects, concepts, and services.
Your resources can have multiple representations JSON, XML, or HTML depending on what the client requires. The client interacts with resources by exchanging these representations.
Every request from the client to the server should include all the information required to understand and process the request. This ensures that servers do not need to maintain session information for clients.
Servers should not store client states in between requests. All the information necessary to understand and process the request correctly should be included in the request.
A single client can interact with multiple servers and each has its own responsibility and role within the greater system. The client will be unaware of the inner workings of each server which is what allows for a flexible and scalable architecture.
Code on Demand (Optional)
This is a constraint that allows the option of transferring executable code from the server to the client which extends the functionality of the client.
To summarize, RESTful APIs are widely used in web development due to their simplistic and scalable nature. They should be employed when building web services to allow for different software systems to communicate with one another using standard HTTP methods and status codes. When it comes to implementing a REST API it’s important that you follow the above principles to ensure your interface is reliable and understandable.
Now we come to the REST endpoint (also known as a resource endpoint) which is a specific URI or IRL that represents a resource or object in your application. These endpoints will interact with and manipulate multiple resources in the system. Each one will correspond to a specific HTTP method and is responsible for handling the associated operations on that resource.
Common HTTP Methods and Corresponding Actions
We’ve summarized a few common HTTP methods and their corresponding actions associated with REST endpoints.
This method retrieves data from a resource. Accessing a REST endpoint with a GET request will typically retrieve information from the specified resource without making changes to the data.
Post requests create new resources, this will send data to a REST endpoint with a post request. You will usually use a post request when you want to create a new object or record on the server.
Put methods are used to update existing resources or create a new resource if no match is found. Sending data to a REST endpoint with a put request will modify or replace the existing resource at the endpoint.
A patch is similar to a put and is used for partial updates which allows you to make changes to existing resources without replacing the entire resource.
The delete method is used to remove a resource from your system, when sending a delete request to a REST endpoint you are sending a request for a resource to be removed.
Your REST endpoints will follow a pattern in the URLs. When it comes to the structure and naming of your REST endpoints they should have an easily understandable name following specific naming conventions to make it intuitive for clients to interact with the APIs. Documentation is the last thing on everyone’s mind when it comes to the development stage but it is a vital component to ensure clients understand how to interact with the API to perform various operations on resources.
Salesforce API Documentation
If you are still left scratching your head when it comes to all things Salesforce and APIs, Salesforce does offer comprehensive documentation that developers can utilize when looking to integrate or extend the Salesforce experience. There are a number of third-party tools you could look for on the AppExchange to make the creation of your APIs easier. We recommend going with a product that you can use without having to know coding and offers an easy-to-use interface such as Titan. Titan makes creating actions to interact with your data a breeze so you can ensure you don’t have to rely on a tech-savvy developer to get started.
If your processes have been accurately documented then you can easily follow through the Salesforce help guide to see where you went wrong.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Salesforce REST API?
Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface or REST API for short is a type of web service that shows access to different resources a client interacts with through the use of unique URLs and HTTP methods. These will indicate the requested action.
How do I set up REST API in Salesforce?
- Create a connected app in Salesforce. Navigate to the Setup home > Apps> Manage apps> New connected app.
- Connect to the REST API. The OAuth Username-Password flow is used to authenticate the REST API.
What is REST and SOAP API in Salesforce?
The SOAP API is neutral, independent, and extensible. REST is a set of principles attuned to the needs of lightweight web services and mobile applications. The set of guidelines ensures it leaves the implementation of these recommendations to developers.
How do I call REST API from Salesforce?
Use the HTTP Request element to send HTTP requests to the REST API endpoint in Salesforce Flow. Configure the HTTP Request with the appropriate method and headers required by the API.
Available on the AppExchange
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