13 Apr 2023
  • Website Development

REST vs. API: Unraveling the Misnomer

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


The term "REST API" is commonly used in digital communication, yet it often misrepresents the concept envisioned by its creator, Roy Fielding. This article will explore why the term "REST API" is misleading, clarify the differences between APIs and REST, and discuss the impact of this misunderstanding in web communication.

The Genesis of REST

REST, or Representational State Transfer, is an architectural style developed by Roy Fielding in his dissertation. It outlines principles for creating scalable, efficient, and resilient web communication systems. These principles include stateless communication, client-server separation, cacheability, layered system architecture, and a uniform interface. Each principle plays a crucial role in the design of effective web systems, ensuring modularity, flexibility, and consistency.

The Nature of APIs

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are sets of rules that allow different software applications to interact. They provide a structured way for developers to access functionalities of an application, focusing on facilitating communication between different software components.

The Discrepancy Between API and REST

The issue with the term "REST API" arises from the difference between REST as a design philosophy and the practical implementation of APIs. While REST sets a framework for efficient communication systems, many APIs do not fully adhere to these principles. Common deviations include stateful interactions and inconsistent interfaces, which can compromise system scalability and interoperability.


Misusing the term "REST API" has several consequences. It can dilute the original intent of REST, leading to confusion and less effective communication systems. Additionally, equating REST with HTTP can limit the recognition of other suitable protocols, potentially hindering innovation in web communication.


The discrepancy between the concept of REST and the practical use of APIs leads to confusion and undermines the effectiveness of web communication systems. Recognizing and understanding the differences between API and REST is crucial for developing better communication paradigms and aligning with Fielding's vision for REST.

Tyrone Showers