HTTP Status Message in REST API

HTTP status message in REST APIs are the unsung heroes of web service communication. They act as the language of the internet, providing clear signals about the success or failure of each request. Understanding these three-digit codes empowers you to interpret API responses accurately and build robust applications that handle errors gracefully. In this guide, we’ll delve into the essential HTTP status messages you’ll encounter when working with REST APIs, exploring their meanings and common use cases.

The Role of HTTP Status Messages

Each time you interact with a REST API, the server sends back a response that includes an HTTP status message. This three-digit code is like a brief summary of how the request went. The first digit broadly categorizes the response (e.g., 2xx for success, 4xx for client errors, 5xx for server errors), while the remaining two digits provide more specific details.

5 Essential HTTP Status Message in REST APIs

  1. 200 OK: The request was successful. This is the most common response for a GET request that retrieves data.
  2. 201 Created: The request was successful, and a new resource was created on the server.
  3. 204 No Content: The request was successful, but there is no content to return in the response body. This is often used for DELETE requests.
  4. 400 Bad Request: The server couldn’t understand your request, usually due to invalid syntax or missing parameters.
  5. 404 Not Found: The requested resource was not found on the server. This could be because the URL is incorrect or the resource has been deleted.

Additional Important HTTP Status Messages

  • 401 Unauthorized: The client needs to authenticate (provide credentials) before accessing the resource.
  • 403 Forbidden: The client is not authorized to access the resource, even with valid credentials.
  • 500 Internal Server Error: Something went wrong on the server side while processing the request. This is usually a server-side bug.

Going Beyond the Basics: More HTTP Status Messages

  • 1xx (Informational): Indicates that the request was received and is being processed.
  • 3xx (Redirection): The client needs to take additional action to complete the request, such as following a redirect.

For more you can checkout 18 Common HTTP Status Codes You Must Know.

Best Practices for Handling HTTP Status Messages

  • Check the Status Code: Always check the status code in your client application to determine the outcome of the request.
  • Handle Errors Gracefully: Provide informative error messages to users when requests fail, based on the status code and any additional information in the response body.
  • Use Redirects: If a resource has moved, use a 3xx status code to redirect the client to the new location.
  • Implement Caching: Utilize caching headers (e.g., Cache-Control, ETag) to improve API performance.

FAQs: HTTP Status Message in REST API

Q: Are all HTTP status codes used in REST APIs?

A: While all HTTP status codes can be used, some are more common in REST APIs than others.

Q: How do I know which status code to use in my API response?

A: Refer to the HTTP specification for a complete list of status codes and their meanings. Choose the code that most accurately reflects the outcome of the requested operation.

Q: Do I always need to include a response body with an error message?

A: It’s best practice to include a descriptive error message in the response body to help clients understand and troubleshoot issues.

Q: Can I define custom HTTP status codes?

A: No, the HTTP status codes are standardized. You can, however, create custom error codes within your API’s response body to provide more detailed information.