How to Use the Web Share API

How to Use the Web Share API

Learn how to use the Web Share API to give your web app a more native feel. Google and the Chromium team released a new API that enables us to share data from our web app the same way we do from our iOS and Android apps. The Web Share API is a game-changer.

Google and the Chromium team are advancing the web with new exciting features that bring native-like experiences to the online world.

Recently, they released a new API that enables us to share data from our web app the same way we do from our iOS and Android apps. The Web Share API is a game-changer.

The Web Share API makes it possible for web apps to share links, text, and files to other apps installed on the device in the same way as native apps.

Using the Web API

The Web Share API is available in the navigator object, as navigator.share(...) method.

navigator.share({
    title,
    text,
    url
})
.then(() => )
.catch((error) => )

The object’s properties are optional. Their usage depends on the context or app target you want to share it to.

Let’s see a simple example:

<html>
<title>
    Web Share API
</title>

<body>
    <div>
        <input type="text" placeholder="Enter text you wanna share" id="title" />
        <input type="text" placeholder="Enter the text you want to share here" id="text" />
        <input type="text" placeholder="Enter the URL" id="url" />
        <input type="file" id="file" />
        <button onclick="share">Share</button>
    </div>
</body>
<script>
    function share() {
        if (navigator.share) {
            navigator.share({
                    title: title.value,
                    text: text.value,
                    url: url.value,
                })
                .then(() => console.log('Successful share'))
                .catch((error) => console.log('Error sharing', error));
        } else {
            console.log("Web Share API is not supported in your browser.")
        }
    }
</script>

</html>

We have a simple app with inputs and a button. The inputs represent title, text, and url of the data we want to share. Then, we set up a share function, that calls the navigator.share with the appropriate object. We first checked for the share method availability in the navigator object. If it is not there we inform the user, that his browser doesn’t support the Web Share API.

If we click on Whatsapp, for example, it will open up with your friends/group list to select one. If you click on one,

Whatsapp will send the data passed in the navigator.share(…) method to the selected friend.

Android developers will see that this Web Share API is the same as the Intent.ACTION_SEND in Android.

Sharing files (like media files)

We can share files like photos, audio, video, documents (pdf, doc, ppt, etc) using the Web Share API.

To share files, we pass a file property to the navigator.share input object:

navigator.share({
 file: [...]
})
...

The file property will hold the files blob in an array.

Let’s see an example:

<html>
<title>
    Web Share API
</title>

<body>
    <div>
        <div>
            <input type="text" placeholder="Enter title..." id="title" />
        </div>
        <div>
            <input type="text" placeholder="Enter the text..." id="text" />
        </div>
        <div>
            <input type="file" id="file" />
        </div>
        <div>
            <button onclick="shareFiles" id="shareFilesButton">Share Files</button>
        </div>
    </div>
</body>
<script>
    shareFilesButton.addEventListener("click", () => shareFiles())
    function shareFiles() {
        const files = [file]
        if (navigator.canShare && navigator.canShare({
                files: files
            })) {
            navigator.share({
                    title: title.value,
                    text: text.value,
                    file: files,
                })
                .then(() => console.log('Successful share'))
                .catch((error) => console.log('Error sharing', error));
        } else {
            console.log("Web Share API is not supported in your browser.")
        }
    }
</script>

</html>

We are using the canShare method to check for Web Share availability and also we use the canShare to check for a file type support:

if (navigator.canShare && navigator.canShare({
 files: files
 })) {
 ...
 }
 ...

We passed in the file blobs in the file property, this checks if we can share the particular file we selected from the input#file.

Not all file types are shareable using the navigator.share(…) API.

Back to our example, we passed the selected file from the input#file to an array. We constructed a literal object with properties we want to share, the file property was added here. This file property tells the Web Share that we are sharing file(s).

Finally, we call the navigator.share method with the object.

Now, when we select an app target (let’s say Whatsapp), the files in the files array will be sent to the friend we selected.

Check out my demo of the Web Share API Browsers compatibility

This Web Share is not supported in all browsers.

Chrome browser from version 6.1+ supports only sharing text and links.

Chrome browser from 7.~ supports both sharing files, links, and text.

Conclusion

Native capabilities are increasingly being brought to our browsers. What native-like experience do you wish to see replicated in a web app? Drop your comments.

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APIs for Beginners - What is an API? How to use an API?

APIs for Beginners - What is an API? How to use an API?

APIs for Beginners, What exactly is an API? How do you use an API? Learn all about APIs in this full course for beginners. Learn how to use Postman and helper libraries in both JavaScript and Python. Lean how to create a project using an API using both Node.js and Flask. Learn what APIs do, why APIs exist, and the many benefits of APIs. Explore APIs online

APIs for Beginners - What is an API? How do you use an API? Learn all about APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) in this full course for beginners. You will learn what APIs do, why APIs exist, and the many benefits of APIs. APIs are used all the time in programming and web development so it is important to understand how to use them.

You will also get hands-on experience with a few popular web APIs. As long as you know the absolute basics of coding and the web, you'll have no problem following along.

⭐️ Course Contents ⭐️

⭐️ Unit 1 - What is an API
⌨️ Video 1 - Welcome (0:00:00)
⌨️ Video 2 - Defining Interface (0:03:57)
⌨️ Video 3 - Defining API (0:07:51)
⌨️ Video 4 - Remote APIs (0:12:55)
⌨️ Video 5 - How the web works (0:17:04)
⌨️ Video 6 - RESTful API Constraint Scavenger Hunt (0:22:00)

⭐️ Unit 2 - Exploring APIs
⌨️ Video 1 - Exploring an API online (0:27:36)
⌨️ Video 2 - Using an API from the command line (0:44:30)
⌨️ Video 3 - Using Postman to explore APIs (0:53:56)
⌨️ Video 4 - Please please Mr. Postman (1:03:33)
⌨️ Video 5 - Using Helper Libraries (JavaScript) (1:14:41)
⌨️ Video 6 - Using Helper Libraries (Python) (1:24:40)

⭐️ Unit 3 - Using APIs
⌨️ Video 1 - Introducing the project (1:34:18)
⌨️ Video 2 - Flask app (1:36:07)
⌨️ Video 3 - Dealing with API Limits (1:50:00)
⌨️ Video 4 - JavaScript Single Page Application (1:54:27)
⌨️ Video 5 - Moar JavaScript and Recap (2:07:53)
⌨️ Video 6 - Review (2:18:03)

What the difference between REST API and RESTful API?

What the difference between REST API and RESTful API?

Representational state transfer (REST) is a style of software architecture. As described in a dissertation by Roy Fielding, REST is an "architectural style" that basically exploits the existing technology and protocols of the Web. RESTful is typically used to refer to web services implementing such an architecture.

The short answer is that REST stands for Representational State Transfer. It’s an architectural pattern for creating web services. A RESTful service is one that implements that pattern.

The long answer starts with “sort of” and “it depends” and continues with more complete definitions.

Defining REST

Let’s start by defining what REST is and is not. For some, REST means a server that exchanges JSON documents with a client over HTTP. Not only is that not a complete definition, but it’s also not always true. The REST specification doesn’t require HTTP or JSON. (The spec doesn’t mention JSON or XML at all.)

The Origins of REST

Roy Fielding introduced the REST architectural pattern in a dissertation he wrote in 2000. The paper defines a means for clients and servers to exchange application data. A key feature is that the client doesn’t need to know anything about the application in advance. The link is to chapter five of his paper. While the entire dissertation describes the hows and whys of REST, that chapter defines the architectural pattern.

Fielding doesn’t mandate specific requirements. Instead, he defines REST regarding constraints and architectural elements.

REST’s Architectural Constraints

Here is a summary of the constraints.

  • Client-server – REST applications have a server that manages application data and state. The server communicates with a client that handles the user interactions. A clear separation of concerns divides the two components. This means you can update and improve them in independent tracks.
  • Stateless – servers don’t maintain any client state. Clients manage their application state. Their requests to servers contain all the information required to process them.
  • Cacheable – servers must mark their responses as cacheable or not. So, infrastructures and clients can cache them when possible to improve performance. They can dispose of non-cacheable Information, so no client uses stale data.
  • Uniform interface – this constraint is REST’s most well known feature or rule, depending on who you ask. Fielding says “The central feature that distinguishes the REST architectural style from other network-based styles is its emphasis on a uniform interface between components.” REST services provide data as resources, with a consistent namespace. We’ll cover this in detail below.
  • Layered system – components in the system cannot “see” beyond their layer. So, you can easily add load-balancers and proxies to improve security or performance.

A RESTful service is more than a web server that exchanges JSON, or any other, documents. These constraints work together to create a very specific type of application.

Applying the Constraints

First, the client-server, layered systems and stateless constraints combine to form an application with solid boundaries and clear separations between concerns. Data moves from the server to the client upon request. The client displays or manipulates it. If the state changes, the client sends it back to the server for storage. Fielding specifically contrasts REST with architectures that use distributed objects to hide data from other components. In REST, the client and server share knowledge about data and state. The architecture doesn’t conceal data, it only hides implementations.

The cacheable and uniform state constraints go one step further. Application data is available to clients in a clear and consistent interface and cached when possible.

So, that’s the technical definition of REST. What does it look like in the real world?

RPC Over HTTP vs. RESTful

Often when someone says that a service “isn’t REST,” they’re looking at the URIs or how the service uses HTTP verbs. They’re referring to REST’s presentation of data as a uniform set of resources.

This distinction is sometimes framed as a difference between remote procedures calls (RPC) and REST. Imagine a web service for listing, adding, and removing, items from an e-commerce inventory.

In one version, there’s a single URL that we query with HTTP GETs or POSTs.  You interact with the service by POSTing a document, setting the contents to reflect what you want to do.

Add new items with a POST with a NewItem:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "NewItem": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "9.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

Query for items with a POST and an ItemRequest:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "ItemRequest": {
          "id": "1001"
      }
}

Some implementations accept a request for a new item with a get, too.

POST /inventory?id=1001 HTTP/1.1

We also change or delete items with a POST and an ItemDelete or ItemUpdate.

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "ItemDelete": {
          "id": "1001"
      }
}

This isn’t REST. We’re not exchanging the state of resources. We’re calling a function with arguments that happen to be in a JSON document or URL arguments.

A RESTful service has a URI for each item in the inventory.

So, adding a new item would look like the example above.

POST /item HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "Item": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "9.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

But the similarities end there. Retrieving an item is always a GET:

GET /item/1001 HTTP/1.1   

Deleting is a DELETE:

DELETE /item/1001 HTTP/1.1  

Modifying an item is a PUT:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "Item": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "7.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

The difference is important. In REST, operations that use distinct HTTP actions. These verbs correspond directly to the activity on the data. GET, POST, PUT, DELETE and PATCH all have specific contracts. Most well-designed REST APIs also return specific HTTP codes, depending on the result of the request.

The critical point is that the URIs operate on the data, not on remote methods.

But there’s another reason why the resource model is essential.

REST vs RESTful and the Richardson Maturity Model

When you model your URIs after resources and use HTTP verbs you make your API predictable. Once developers know how you defined your resources, they can almost predict what the API looks like. Here again, the emphasis is on understanding the data, not the operations.

But even if you can’t make the API entirely predictable, you can document any REST service with hypertext. So, each item returned in the inventory app would contain links for deleting, modifying, or setting the inventory level of the resource. Fielding says that before a service is RESTful, it must provide hypertext media as part of the API.

Many sites don’t meet this requirement but are still called REST. Fact is, many sites break the rules in one way or another. So many that Leonard Richardson created a model breaks down REST into levels of compliance

We’ve already covered the source levels:

  • 0 – exporting an API over HTTP with methods called with arguments
  • 1 – Exporting resources instead of methods
  • 2 – Proper use of HTTP verbs
  • 3 – Exporting hypertext with objects that make all or part of the API discoverable.

Richardson’s model is his own, and it doesn’t map directly into Fielding’s spec. Since Fielding requires level three, he would say that most apps aren’t REST anyway.

The point is many services that we colloquially refer to as REST, technically aren’t.

REST vs RESTful: Does It Matter?

So, does the REST vs. RESTful comparison matter? Probably not. How well your architecture complies with an arbitrary standard isn’t as important with how well it suits your needs and can grow with your business.

The REST architectural pattern has many advantages. Fielding designed it for the web and, 18 years later, most of the constraints he had in mind are still with us. In 2000 we didn’t have Android or the iPhone. IE5 had 50% of the browser market share. It’s biggest rival was Firefox. But Fielding recognized what online applications needed and how web clients would evolve from HTML display engines into complete applications. The tools we use today have grown to suit REST, not the other way around.

Thank you for reading. Hope this tutorial will help you!

What the difference between REST API and RESTful API?

What the difference between REST API and RESTful API?

Representational state transfer (REST) is a style of software architecture. As described in a dissertation by Roy Fielding, REST is an "architectural style" that basically exploits the existing technology and protocols of the Web. RESTful is typically used to refer to web services implementing such an architecture.

The short answer is that REST stands for Representational State Transfer. It’s an architectural pattern for creating web services. A RESTful service is one that implements that pattern.

The long answer starts with “sort of” and “it depends” and continues with more complete definitions.

Defining REST

Let’s start by defining what REST is and is not. For some, REST means a server that exchanges JSON documents with a client over HTTP. Not only is that not a complete definition, but it’s also not always true. The REST specification doesn’t require HTTP or JSON. (The spec doesn’t mention JSON or XML at all.)

The Origins of REST

Roy Fielding introduced the REST architectural pattern in a dissertation he wrote in 2000. The paper defines a means for clients and servers to exchange application data. A key feature is that the client doesn’t need to know anything about the application in advance. The link is to chapter five of his paper. While the entire dissertation describes the hows and whys of REST, that chapter defines the architectural pattern.

Fielding doesn’t mandate specific requirements. Instead, he defines REST regarding constraints and architectural elements.

REST’s Architectural Constraints

Here is a summary of the constraints.

  • Client-server – REST applications have a server that manages application data and state. The server communicates with a client that handles the user interactions. A clear separation of concerns divides the two components. This means you can update and improve them in independent tracks.
  • Stateless – servers don’t maintain any client state. Clients manage their application state. Their requests to servers contain all the information required to process them.
  • Cacheable – servers must mark their responses as cacheable or not. So, infrastructures and clients can cache them when possible to improve performance. They can dispose of non-cacheable Information, so no client uses stale data.
  • Uniform interface – this constraint is REST’s most well known feature or rule, depending on who you ask. Fielding says “The central feature that distinguishes the REST architectural style from other network-based styles is its emphasis on a uniform interface between components.” REST services provide data as resources, with a consistent namespace. We’ll cover this in detail below.
  • Layered system – components in the system cannot “see” beyond their layer. So, you can easily add load-balancers and proxies to improve security or performance.

A RESTful service is more than a web server that exchanges JSON, or any other, documents. These constraints work together to create a very specific type of application.

Applying the Constraints

First, the client-server, layered systems and stateless constraints combine to form an application with solid boundaries and clear separations between concerns. Data moves from the server to the client upon request. The client displays or manipulates it. If the state changes, the client sends it back to the server for storage. Fielding specifically contrasts REST with architectures that use distributed objects to hide data from other components. In REST, the client and server share knowledge about data and state. The architecture doesn’t conceal data, it only hides implementations.

The cacheable and uniform state constraints go one step further. Application data is available to clients in a clear and consistent interface and cached when possible.

So, that’s the technical definition of REST. What does it look like in the real world?

RPC Over HTTP vs. RESTful

Often when someone says that a service “isn’t REST,” they’re looking at the URIs or how the service uses HTTP verbs. They’re referring to REST’s presentation of data as a uniform set of resources.

This distinction is sometimes framed as a difference between remote procedures calls (RPC) and REST. Imagine a web service for listing, adding, and removing, items from an e-commerce inventory.

In one version, there’s a single URL that we query with HTTP GETs or POSTs.  You interact with the service by POSTing a document, setting the contents to reflect what you want to do.

Add new items with a POST with a NewItem:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "NewItem": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "9.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

Query for items with a POST and an ItemRequest:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "ItemRequest": {
          "id": "1001"
      }
}

Some implementations accept a request for a new item with a get, too.

POST /inventory?id=1001 HTTP/1.1

We also change or delete items with a POST and an ItemDelete or ItemUpdate.

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "ItemDelete": {
          "id": "1001"
      }
}

This isn’t REST. We’re not exchanging the state of resources. We’re calling a function with arguments that happen to be in a JSON document or URL arguments.

A RESTful service has a URI for each item in the inventory.

So, adding a new item would look like the example above.

POST /item HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "Item": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "9.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

But the similarities end there. Retrieving an item is always a GET:

GET /item/1001 HTTP/1.1   

Deleting is a DELETE:

DELETE /item/1001 HTTP/1.1  

Modifying an item is a PUT:

POST /inventory HTTP/1.1
 
{
    "Item": {
          "name": "new item",
          "price": "7.99",
          "id": "1001"
      }
}    

The difference is important. In REST, operations that use distinct HTTP actions. These verbs correspond directly to the activity on the data. GET, POST, PUT, DELETE and PATCH all have specific contracts. Most well-designed REST APIs also return specific HTTP codes, depending on the result of the request.

The critical point is that the URIs operate on the data, not on remote methods.

But there’s another reason why the resource model is essential.

REST vs RESTful and the Richardson Maturity Model

When you model your URIs after resources and use HTTP verbs you make your API predictable. Once developers know how you defined your resources, they can almost predict what the API looks like. Here again, the emphasis is on understanding the data, not the operations.

But even if you can’t make the API entirely predictable, you can document any REST service with hypertext. So, each item returned in the inventory app would contain links for deleting, modifying, or setting the inventory level of the resource. Fielding says that before a service is RESTful, it must provide hypertext media as part of the API.

Many sites don’t meet this requirement but are still called REST. Fact is, many sites break the rules in one way or another. So many that Leonard Richardson created a model breaks down REST into levels of compliance

We’ve already covered the source levels:

  • 0 – exporting an API over HTTP with methods called with arguments
  • 1 – Exporting resources instead of methods
  • 2 – Proper use of HTTP verbs
  • 3 – Exporting hypertext with objects that make all or part of the API discoverable.

Richardson’s model is his own, and it doesn’t map directly into Fielding’s spec. Since Fielding requires level three, he would say that most apps aren’t REST anyway.

The point is many services that we colloquially refer to as REST, technically aren’t.

REST vs RESTful: Does It Matter?

So, does the REST vs. RESTful comparison matter? Probably not. How well your architecture complies with an arbitrary standard isn’t as important with how well it suits your needs and can grow with your business.

The REST architectural pattern has many advantages. Fielding designed it for the web and, 18 years later, most of the constraints he had in mind are still with us. In 2000 we didn’t have Android or the iPhone. IE5 had 50% of the browser market share. It’s biggest rival was Firefox. But Fielding recognized what online applications needed and how web clients would evolve from HTML display engines into complete applications. The tools we use today have grown to suit REST, not the other way around.

Thank you for reading. Hope this tutorial will help you!