Saturday, November 3, 2018

What is State Transfer in REST architecture really mean?

Understanding State Transfer in REST 

One of the most critical properties of the REST Architecture (Representational State Transfer) is the protocol is stateless and the state gets transferred between the client and the server. I personally always found this to be confusing until I really learned architecture by actually using it. In this video, I will explain the state transfer in REST by example. 

In a stateful architecture, the client makes a request to the server and the server “remembers” the client. The next request from the client will be retrieved from the state stored locally in the server. The pros of this are the server will pick up where they left off with each request, so request throughput is higher in stateful architecture. Another advantage of the client can send less data through the wire too. The cons of this architecture are if the server is down, the request cannot be fulfilled and the client is forced to disconnect and reconnect again to another server anyway and go through the entire process.

However, REST is a stateless architecture where every request is responsible to “bring” as much information about the client as possible for the server to reconstruct the state from scratch. This means that no matter what server the client hit, the request will always be fulfilled so you get higher availability. This is where the state transfer in REST came from. Disadvantages of this architecture is the client now sends more information through the wire, thus your application consumes more bandwidth as a result, this is less of an issue with the introduction of protocol buffers and HTTP2. Another disadvantage is the throughput goes down since each request has to wait for the state to “replay” and get constructed. 

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Hussein Nasser

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