What’s the Difference Between REST API and API?

2 min readSep 15, 2023


A synergy between software applications is extremely important, especially when it comes to innovation and connectivity. For this, it is imperative to understand the difference between REST APIs (Representational State Transfer) and their broader counterpart, APIs (Application Programming Interface).

These two terms are often used inter-changeably, but their distinctions can have a profound impact on the success of software projects. In this blog, we briefly discuss the difference between use-cases and architectural styles of API and REST API.

What is API?

An API, which is short for Application Programming Interface, is like a universal language that software applications use to effectively communicate and work together. It acts as a bridge, allowing different software programs to connect and share information, functions or services.

APIs are incredibly versatile and they enable diverse software solutions to integrate seamlessly. APIs can also enable applications to expand their capabilities, by tapping into the vast pool of APIs designed by other developers. The significance of APIs increases manifolds in today’s world, where inter-connectivity and data exchange are at the core of modern technology and digital innovation.

What is REST API?

Now, let’s move on towards REST API, which represents a specific approach of designing APIs. It relies on HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests for accessing and managing data. These actions include essential operations such as retrieving (GET), updating (PUT), creating (POST) and deleting (DELETE) various data resources.

The Difference between REST API and API

REST APIs are an ideal choice for web and mobile applications, cloud services, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is due to their simplicity, statelessness and reliance on standard HTTP communication.

On the other hand, general APIs cover the broader spectrum of use cases. They excel in diverse software integration, specialized protocols, complex systems and legacy technologies. Their adaptability allows them to fulfill the unique project requirements and integration needs of users.

When it comes to architectural style, the key distinction between REST APIs and general APIs is that REST APIs strictly adhere to the Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture. They employ standard HTTP methods and resource-based URLs.

In contrast, general APIs encompass a broader range of architectural styles, by accommodating various protocols. This flexibility makes them well-suited for complex or specialized architectural needs.

The aforementioned discussion tells us that while REST APIs shine in simplicity and standardization, general APIs emerge as versatile tools for tackling diverse architectural as well as operational challenges. The choice between the two hinges on the unique demands of your project, and the use cases.




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