From Microformats Wiki
Revision as of 22:56, 27 September 2007 by DrErnie (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

URL Conventions

The recommended conventions for RESTful URLs are those used by Ruby on Rails, as seen in Highrise. Following these conventions for both HTTP method names and URL construction will allow your application to be consumed by ActiveResource, Jester, and other RESTful clients. Note that Rails 1.x used ";edit" and ";new" in place of the simpler "/edit" and "/new" recommended going forward.


The principal unit of operation is the "collection", which typically corresponds to a database table or (in Rails) an ActiveRecord class. For a collection named "people", the primary routes would be:

Operate on the Collection

GET /people
return a list of all records
GET /people/new
return a form for creating a new record
POST /people
submit fields for creating a new record

Operate on a Record

GET /people/1
return the first record
DELETE /people/1
destroy the first record
GET /people/1/edit
return a form to edit the first record
PUT /people/1
submit fields for updating the first record

Follow a Relationship

GET /people/1/friends
return the collection of friends associated with the first person
GET /people/1/friends/1
return the first friend of that person

Invoke Custom Actions

It isn't always possible to map everything into Create-Retrieve-Update-Delete (CRUD). Thus, there is also a syntax for specifying custom actions:

POST /people/1/promote
run the "promote" action against the first record

These should be used sparingly, as they are unlikely to be supported by most clients.

File Formats

Data types are extremely important in REST. While it is ideal to specify the appropriate MIME type as an HTTP header, developers are encouraged to follow Rails in allowing extension-based typing, e.g.:


GET /people/1
return the first record in HTML format
GET /people/1.html
return the first record in HTML format


GET /people/1.xml
return the first record in XML format


GET /people/1.json
return the first record in JSON format

While the JSON mapping should be trivially obvious, the best practice for XML is to:

  1. use the column name as the element name
  2. include an appropriate "type" field

See the Highrise reference for an example of how this works in practice.