Originally posted on makeuseof.
So, you want to build an API, but where should you start? Try these frameworks on for size.
Python is growing exponentially in popularity due to its simple learning curve and straightforward syntax. The coding language is used in web development, software development, mathematics, system scripting, and just about everything else under the sun.
This multi-faceted language’s cross-platform compatibility and the ability to shrink code are two primary reasons that make it a preferred language for developers. However, numerous Python frameworks help you create robust Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which can work wonders for you.
What’s an Application Programming Interface (API)?
An API is an engine behind every other platform on the internet. These help people remain interconnected by assisting different applications to communicate with each other behind the scenes.
Imagine yourself in a restaurant with a menu in your hands. The kitchen staff can cook all the dishes on the menu, but how will they serve your favorite dish? In this case, the server takes your order and passes it on to the kitchen. The server then brings the cooked food to the user. This is precisely what an API does; it helps the user and the system communicate.
Let’s look at some of the best Python Frameworks for building APIs:
1. Django REST
Django REST comes with a long list of features that make it a popular choice amongst developers. Representational State Transfer (REST) is a web-based architecture system used for data communication. Django REST can be installed easily with a single command using PIP.
It offers handy features like serialization for ORM and non-ORM sources. Additionally, this framework is trusted by popular organizations like Red Hat, Mozilla, and Heroku; the active community continues to help developers take well-informed decisions.
REST features include a set of browsable web APIs and multiple built-in authentication policies that simplify the API development process. Make sure you install Python 3.5 or above on your system before installing Django REST.
2. Flask Restful
As the name suggests, Flask Restful is tailor-made to make the API development process straightforward and swift. This lightweight Python framework requires only a few commands to get it running and building APIs. Flask’s straightforward and easy-to-use experience for API development makes it a well-recognized API tool. Rest assured, Flask is quite handy for formatting data fields like fields modules and marshal_with() decorators.
Flask, as an API tool, offers multiple data representations like XML, CSV, and HTML by using the representation () decorator. There are frequent features within this API tool, which make it into a full-stack Python framework.
Falcon is a preferred tool for developers, especially if you want to create fast and high-performing APIs. Experience a seamless transition with its object-oriented and class-based interface. It’s WSGI compliant, which makes it compatible with multiple servers and platforms.
Falcon uses HTTP and REST architecture that helps in creating user-friendly designs. Thankfully, what sets it apart is the installation process, which is quite simple, straightforward, and requires little to no effort. The REST framework extensively simplifies the development process by providing a debugger for development, which works well with its built-in server.
To run Flask, you should have PyPy and Python versions above 2.7 or 3.5 installed on your machine.
Connexion automatically handles HTTPS and uses OpenAPI specifications. You get a generated specification based on the Python code for your API; however, the OpenAPI specification takes a different route. You have to write an OpenAPI specification in YAML format and then map the Python functional endpoints. This approach automatically validates the requests and their endpoints.
Connexion is capable of handling token-based authentication using the OAuth 2 grant type. It comes with a Web Swagger Console UI, which lets you call the API’s endpoints as well. API versioning and automatic serialization of the payloads are a few other handy features included in the Connexion framework.
As the name suggests, FastAPI is one of the fastest Python frameworks for building APIs. As per user reviews, it can boost development speeds by 200-300%. FastAPI is widely used in building asynchronous web applications, and it comes backed by community support from more than 200 contributors.
This full-fledged web framework comes with a ton of features that make the development process quick and easy. Some features include the likes of interactive API documentation and duplicate code elimination. This Python-based framework reduces bugs and errors by ~40%.
You can also use common editors like VSCode and PyCharm with autocompletion in FastAPI. The unlimited plug-in support and the integrated security protocols are some nice-to-have features within FastAPI’s framework.
Hug works on the “write once, use anywhere” philosophy that allows you to create an API and use it anywhere in your code. This microframework lets you build efficient APIs, local packages, and CLIs. Hug provides high-speed performance as it uses Cython for compilation. This way, it only uses resources when necessary.
The API documentation in Hug is some of the best in the industry. You can test your API’s full Python stack using the built-in hug.test module. Hug currently supports Python 3, and you can install it using a single PIP command.
Eve is inspired by Flask and Cerberus and offers the best of both versions. This tool is tailored to make API development simple, fast, and highly customizable. It continues to be best suited for creating medium-sized web services efficiently. This framework offers customizable endpoints, pagination, sorting, and filtering features.
Eve comes with advanced features like authentication, caching, and rate-limiting. You also get out-of-the-box support for data validation; this tool adds high versatility and extensive support for a full range of CRUD operations and Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) functionalities.
You can effortlessly integrate Eve with SQL databases, MongoDB, Elasticsearch, and Neo4js.
This REST-based framework for Pyramid offers help for building and documenting REST-based Web Services. Cornice automatically uses the HTTP specification if it’s available. Pyramid can scale itself according to the needs of the application.
Cornice adds Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) support to all of your services. It throws a 400 error if the data is found invalid after content validation. This REST-based framework uses Pyramid’s ACLs for authorization. You can use the command-line Python tool “Tox” for automated testing.
APIs Continue to Be the Backbone of the Internet
APIs are the backbone of the modern Internet we use every day. The Python frameworks mentioned in this article make the API development process extremely easy and swift. Frameworks like Hug and Eve are best suited for smaller projects, while Django, Flask, and Falcon are suitable for larger-scale applications.
Choose any of these Python Frameworks and start building APIs efficiently.