Microservices vs. APIs vs. RESTful Services – It’s Time to Understand the Difference

by sagacity

What’s the difference between Microservices, APIs, and RESTful Services? You must have come across these terms time and time again, but what do they actually mean? Let’s take a closer look.


What Are Microservices?

Microservices architecture consists of small, single-purpose services that work together to accomplish a task. They are designed to be easy to maintain and replace. Each microservice has its database and can be scaled independently, making it possible to scale the application without changing its architecture.

The global microservice architecture market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.6% until 2026.


What Is API?

API stands for application programming interface. It is a collection of functions, messages, and protocols that an operating system, library, or other large program provides to support the development of programs using it. APIs are used when programming languages are not compatible with each other or when there is no standard way to access certain functionality.

Almost 90% of developers use APIs.


What Are RESTful Services?

RESTful Services refer to web service that uses the Representational State Transfer (REST) architectural style. You can design web services and systems distributed over the Internet using REST architecture. It’s a set of constraints or guidelines that you can follow to build a functional, scalable, and maintainable design for your service.

RESTful services are stateless, meaning each request from a client has to contain all the information needed to fulfill it. It also means that every request must be independent of others to be processed successfully.


Microservices vs. APIs vs. RESTful Services – The Differences

●  Ease of Use

Microservices are much easier to use than APIs and RESTful Services because they don’t require knowledge of a specific language or framework. Instead, you can use any programming language you want to create a microservice. It also means that the development process is much more flexible since you can test your code on different platforms before deploying it in production.

On the other hand, APIs require knowledge of an API language like JSON or XML. This makes them more challenging to learn than microservices; however, it gives them more flexibility regarding data handling. Suppose you need to store your data in multiple formats simultaneously (JSON, XML). In that case, an API will let you do this easily, while a microservice would require two separate services instead of one.

RESTful Web Services are similar to APIs but with one key difference: they’re designed for HTTP requests rather than URL requests (URLs). This means that if you want to send data from one place to another using RESTful Services, then there’s no need for authentication tokens—you just need a URL and an HTTP request to make it work.

● Size & Complexity

Microservices, APIs, and RESTful Services are similar in that they provide a way for applications to communicate with each other. They differ primarily in size and complexity.

Microservices are designed to be small, self-contained units that can be used individually or combined with other microservices to create a larger application. Microservices should be able to run on any type of hardware, which makes them ideal for cloud deployment.

APIs and RESTful Services are large web applications that perform complex tasks and require servers for processing requests. They don’t necessarily have to be deployed in the cloud—they can run on-premise or in a hybrid environment.

● Application

Microservices are the best choice when you need to build multiple apps with different APIs or when you want to build an app that multiple clients will use. This approach is usually adopted when you have a huge application with many components and different teams working on each component.

APIs are the simplest way to connect your application with other services. You can use them to share data between applications and communicate with third-party services.

RESTful Services are the most popular type of API because they’re simple to use and easy to implement in any programming language or platform. They work very well for small projects where only one client or server application is involved, such as an Android app that connects with a server through HTTP requests.

● Time It Takes to Build

Development, deployment, and maintenance of a microservice take much less time than those of APIs or RESTful Services. Microservices are also easier to scale, as they are built to serve a specific purpose and are designed to do one thing at a time.

APIs take longer to develop than RESTful Services because they require more coding. They are also harder to maintain because you have to update them whenever there is a change in your system or business model. Finally, APIs need more servers for hosting than RESTful Services.

Notably, RESTful Services are easier to build than either microservices or APIs, but they require more resources for maintenance and scalability.


The Right Choice

As outlined above, there are many subtle differences between microservices, APIs, and RESTful services. Understanding these differences is key to deciding how these approaches can work together to make the application work efficiently.


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