Blackbam Blackbam - 4 months ago 28
HTTP Question

RESTful API Design: PUT or POST for creating many-to-many relationships?

For designing and creating a RESTful API the following question occurs:

The API supports GET (for queries), POST (for creating), PUT (for updates) and DELETE (for deleting).

Lets assume in the database we have an article and a shop both already existing.

Now we need a rest call to link the article instance to the shop instance. Which of the following solutions is the best / most clean REST design:

  1. /shop/id/article/id/ --> with POST

  2. /shop/id/article/id/ --> with PUT

  3. /shoparticlerelation/ --> with POST (object with ids in body)

  4. /shoparticlerelation/ --> with PUT (object with ids in body)

If there is no clear answer or all solutions are equally good this may also be a valid answer if there is a clear argumentation why.


I presume in this situation you already have a collection of shops and a collection of articles, and you just wish to link two together.

One option is to expose a more db like 'resource' that presents this link, and have operations like

POST /shopArticleLinks HTTP/1.1

{ "shop"  : xxx,
  "article: YYY

I would personally look to expose it as a property of the shops and/or articles in a more natural manor, like

PUT /shop/<ID> HTTP/1.1

{ /* existing details */
  "articles": [ /* list of articles */ ]

I've used JSON there, but of course use what ever format you want to use. I've also stuck with using PUT as you stated, but keep in mind that with PUT you should send a full replacement for the new modified version, PATCH can be used to send partial updates, but then you need to consider how you want do that, may something like

PATCH /shops/<ID>/articleLinks HTTP/1.1

{ "add"   : [],
  "remove : []

Don't forget that server side you can look at what articles are being refereed to and ensure they have a proper back pointer.

Additional thoughts

Regarding the second method, where you expose the link as a property of the shop and/or article resources. Keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable (and in this case rather appropriate) that when you update the links in a given shop that the links in the corresponding articles are also updated.