Businesses today frequently use APIs to fulfill their data needs. Requesting data from an API is one of the most cost-effective and fastest ways to obtain data in recent times. With API calls, businesses can retrieve data from the target API endpoint. Businesses use the GET API method to obtain data from target public APIs.
Apart from retrieving data from public APIs, businesses can also perform operations with different HTTP requests. They do this with POST, PUT, and DELETE requests. But nowadays, HTTP GET request is used to get data from the API server. In this article, we will first familiarize ourselves with the most commonly used HTTP GET API. Then, we will look at popular use case examples of HTTP GET API.
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What is the HTTP GET API?
The HTTP GET API is an API (Application Programming Interface) method that web services and applications use to obtain data from each other. The HTTP GET method is used to retrieve information from a web server. A client (for example, a browser or other application) typically uses this method to make a request to the server, usually via a URL. The server receives the request to retrieve the resource specified in the URL and responds by returning the specified resource.
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Typically, users typically use the GET API to retrieve data from the server, and they generally prefer it for situations that do not require data modification. Users usually send data through an HTTP POST request or other HTTP methods for data modification to the API server.
What are the Differences Between HTTP GET and POST?
HTTP GET and POST are popular methods for exchanging data over the HTTP protocol. They differ in their functionality, structure, and intended use. Here are the main differences between HTTP GET and POST:
- HTTP GET is used to retrieve data. Usually used to read and display data from the server. It transmits data via URL, so the request parameters are sent as part of the URL. HTTP POST is used to send data. It is typically used to send data to the server, create a new record, or update an existing record. The data is sent in the request body, so it is less visible to the user.
- In the HTTP GET method, the request parameters are added to the URL. For example, example.com/api/data?param1=value1¶m2=value2. In contrast, HTTP POST sends the request data in the request body. The format of this data is usually in a specific format, such as JSON or XML.
- In the HTTP GET method, the data is clearly visible on the URL, so it is not recommended to send sensitive data (e.g., usernames and passwords). On the other hand, the HTTP POST method is more secure because the data is sent in the body.
Take a detailed look at the differences between HTTP POST and GET for security!
What are the Common Use Cases of Using the HTTP GET API?
In this section, we will obtain the most preferred data of enterprises with the HTTP GET API requirement.
Obtaining geolocation data is one of the most popular use cases for businesses and developers today. They obtain this data via HTTP GET from a free and best IP geolocation API such as the ipstack API. To access geolocation data corresponding to an IP address from the ipstack API via HTTP GET, businesses, and developers can use the following request URL:
In the ‘YOUR_ACCESS_KEY’ field in this request URL, the user can paste their API key and send an HTTP GET request to this URL.
The JSON response that will be obtained when an HTTP GET request is sent to this URL is as follows:
Weather data is also one of the most useful data obtained with HTTP GET. The weatherstack API is a very popular API that provides weather information and serves companies such as Microsoft and Ericsson. This API also sends an error status code to its users in case of an exception. The URL used to get current weather data from this API is as follows:
When businesses and developers send an HTTP GET request to this URL, the detailed response they will get is as follows:
To sum up, the HTTP GET API method is an HTTP method for exchanging data in web services. The client usually uses this method to read data from the server. HTTP GET method sends request parameters via URL and retrieves data. Users widely use it, especially in cases where data does not require modification on the server side. However, when users require data changes, they should prefer using HTTP POST or other HTTP methods.
Q: What are the Best Practices for Developing an HTTP GET API (Application Programming Interface)?
A: When developing an HTTP GET API, developers should consider some best practices. First, they should use the GET method in accordance with the purpose of data retrieval. Then, they should avoid sending sensitive and confidential data in the URL, as the request parameters become clearly visible in the URL. Finally, the GET API can provide query parameters and options such as filtering and sorting, so it’s important that the API be user-friendly and flexible.
Q: What Should a REST API Documentation Contain?
A: A REST API document should include a general description describing the basic purpose, structure, and functionality of the API. The development team should provide a roadmap that specifies the endpoints required to use the API and the HTTP methods performed with these endpoints on the API documentation. In addition, technical details such as available parameters, request bodies, error codes, and possible responses for each endpoint should be clearly specified.
Q: Which HTTP Methods are Available to Send Data?
A: HTTP methods provide developers with different options for sending data. The most commonly used ones include HTTP POST, HTTP PUT and HTTP PATCH.
Q: How Should Developers Make API Requests?
A: Developers should use the documented API endpoints and correct HTTP methods when making API requests. They should correctly specify request parameters and data in the HTTP body or header information and configure them according to the API’s expectations. If API keys, authentication information, or other security measures are present, they must be securely attached to API requests.