RESTful web services are loosely coupled, lightweight web services that
are particularly well suited for creating APIs for clients spread out
across the internet. Representational State Transfer (REST) is an
architectural style of client-server application centered around the
transfer of representations of resources through requests and responses.
In the REST architectural style, data and functionality are considered
resources and are accessed using Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs),
typically links on the Web. The resources are represented by documents
and are acted upon by using a set of simple, well-defined operations.
For example, a REST resource might be the current weather conditions for
a city. The representation of that resource might be an XML document, an
image file, or an HTML page. A client might retrieve a particular
representation, modify the resource by updating its data, or delete the
The REST architectural style is designed to use a stateless
communication protocol, typically HTTP. In the REST architecture style,
clients and servers exchange representations of resources by using a
standardized interface and protocol.
The following principles encourage RESTful applications to be simple,
lightweight, and fast:
Resource identification through URI: A RESTful web service exposes a
set of resources that identify the targets of the interaction with its
clients. Resources are identified by URIs, which provide a global
addressing space for resource and service discovery. See
The @Path Annotation and URI Path Templates for
Uniform interface: Resources are manipulated using a fixed set of four
create, read, update, delete operations: PUT, GET, POST, and DELETE. PUT
creates a new resource, which can be then deleted by using DELETE. GET
retrieves the current state of a resource in some representation. POST
transfers a new state onto a resource. See
Responding to HTTP Methods and Requests for
Self-descriptive messages: Resources are decoupled from their
representation so that their content can be accessed in a variety of
formats, such as HTML, XML, plain text, PDF, JPEG, JSON, and other
document formats. Metadata about the resource is available and used, for
example, to control caching, detect transmission errors, negotiate the
appropriate representation format, and perform authentication or access
control. See Responding to HTTP Methods and
Requests and Using Entity Providers to Map HTTP
Response and Request Entity Bodies for more information.
Stateful interactions through links: Every interaction with a resource
is stateless; that is, request messages are self-contained. Stateful
interactions are based on the concept of explicit state transfer.
Several techniques exist to exchange state, such as URI rewriting,
cookies, and hidden form fields. State can be embedded in response
messages to point to valid future states of the interaction. See
Using Entity Providers to Map HTTP Response and
Request Entity Bodies and Extracting Request Parameters in the JAX-RS Overview
document for more information.