WooCommerce communities are all buzzing nowadays with the new jargon i.e. Rest API. If you are a tech developer on WordPress, you might easily link yourself up with that. However, if you find yourself not able to pace the fuss; just hop on our guide. We will let you understand the complexities of Rest API in an easy manner, as well as what it means for the future of WooCommerce.
While WooCommerce developers are all excited about the Rest API, some WooCommerce users might not even be able to understand that. It is quite depressing for something which is considered the most outstanding and neoteric update in WordPress history.
If you’re unaware of the basic functionality of API, let me start with some basic terms making API more relatable for you.
What’s an API?
As you know well, API stands for Application Programming Interface.
For better understanding, let’s take an example of a simple USB port within your device or computer. The USB port allows your system to connect with multiple physical devices at a time. Similarly, API provides you an interface for different platforms.
API’s are not new, yet many of you might find them unusual and bizarre. You might be surprised to know that you are using API’s on a daily basis for a very long time.
Whenever you are using your social media accounts like Facebook or Google over a third-party application, you are bringing APIs into play. For example, Canva for login or data sharing purposes, where API enables you to access.
This just a mere example to showcase the outstanding application of using an API. Apart from that, if your WooCommerce store rundowns on any email marketing service like Automate Woo, MailChimp, or AWeber, you are still making your life easier through API.
Therefore, API or the application programming interface enables two different applications to interact with each other irrespective of their platform. Such interaction gives rise to data, features, or content exchange among devices with ease without actually accessing the platform itself.
The Foundation of API isn’t very old, in fact on 7th February 2000; Salesforce.com officially launched their first API at IDG Demo Conference. After that, many business giants like Google, Flickr, Amazon, Facebook, etc. joined the league. Therefore, resulting in the growth of API collection.
Till date, the growth of API had seen no fallbacks, yet minor updations had been added from time to time. Every single thing from data-driven marketing campaigns to the high-end automated business workflow management is all effectively managed on a hidden network of API’s.
For instance, you can check out below stated growth metrics from Postman for API collections from Jan 2016 to Jan 2020.
Data is all stored over databases managed by physical servers. Therefore, if you want to access that data or the information, you need to be clear about how to talk with the server. That’s what API does for your application.
Not yet clear, let’s consider this example-
Suppose you need to book a hotel. How do you do that?
Simple, you just fire up your preferred travel application and search for available rooms matching your criteria. Have you ever noticed the notifications like direction suggestion, nearby spots acknowledgement, comparison offers listed, etc. That’s the functionality of API.
Your preferred travel application might be integrated with API, serving these additional suggestions along with your room booking options.
API basically helps by serving the requests from endpoints and responding back with the exact data needed to provide information or service required.
I hope API-based functionality is now all clear with you people. If still in confusion about the actual working of API i.e. application programming interface, then do have a look at the image below-
Now, Let’s Proceed to Rest API:
Rest API is also the same as other API’s. In other words, there isn’t much difference, just that REST provides standards that web systems can use to interface with each other. Without REST, two systems wouldn’t be able to understand each other and send data back and forth.
If we talk about the history, the Rest API was a small project of GitHub back in June 2013, uploaded by Ryan Mclue and Rachel Baker. After that, due to a huge appreciation gain from 100 WordPress contributors; Rest API was added officially to WordPress core in 2015.
To date, Rest API has advanced and modified the functionalities of numerous applications tremendously. In order for an application to be Restful; it must confirm server statelessness, cache-ability, client-server integration, uniform interface, and it works on a layered approach.
Now, you might think.
How Is The Rest API Related To WooCommerce?
When Rest and API work hand-in-hand to boost the functionality and approachability of your WooCommerce website on WordPress, then it makes sense actually. The WooCommerce REST API is not rocket science. Above all, it is just an interface that developers can use to access the WooCommerce store from outside the WordPress installation itself, in order to access the service or functionality.
The outstanding feature of Rest API is its Universality. WooCommerce Rest API was designed with a thought to make your WooCommerce store on WordPress easily interact with other websites and services over the Internet.
Such functionality is all managed well through HTTP requests, which are all universally available. The respective HTTP protocol allows WooCommerce websites to send, create, read, update, and delete (almost all CRUD requests) the service requests to and fro via endpoints. Apart from that, WooCommerce Rest API is all efficient to understand directory-like URL structures as it is.
In short, your WooCommertce Rest API allows you to do anything that your WooCommerce admin area can offer, that too remotely i.e. without manually logging into your site and including the non-WordPress content actually.
I hope all the basic terminology-based doubts are cleared now. Let’s proceed with the efficacies of Restful API in WooCommerce.
Applications of Rest API in WooCommerce
Rest API has numerous applications for a WooCommerce website. But they are not just for developers to get excited about. Moreover, almost all WooCommerce users can make use of that. Rest API with WooCommerce can turn up your ordinary WooCommerce website into a full-fledged application platform. As a result, opening doors to a broader interaction with other applications present over the internet.
Below listed benefits are just small examples of Rest API based bonuses which apparently are huge-
1. Interoperability with Multiple Platforms
The most outstanding and amazing feature of Rest API for WooCommerce lies in its interoperability among devices within completely different platforms. For instance, if you want to access your data from any other third-party application through your WooCommerce dashboard. You can easily access that by just incorporating a Rest API within your WooCommerce website and integrate with that application directly using a JSON request.
Earlier, WooCommerce businesses used to spend a lot of time and effort developing custom API’s for such scenarios.
2. Flexible Hand for Application Development
WooCommerce Rest API is all set to provide freehand for developers to experiment with native applications. Such flexibility can only be achieved just by employing Restful API within their core website functionality.
Such a feature acts as an asset for the businesses on WooCommerce, as they can freely employ their developers to develop custom applications; that too irrespective of any dependency.
3. Streamlined Connectivity with Multiple Devices
WooCommerce stores can make use of the Rest API in order to integrate their core website with multiple devices effectively. Integrating with different business-specific software or tools, easy compatibility with possible legacy solutions, streamlined connectivity with different devices including wearables can easily be achieved.
WooCommerce businesses need not employ any sort of extra effort and money in order to streamline their processes over different platforms.
4. Easy Data Synchronization
WooCommerce stores with large channels or networks can easily synchronize their data available on multiple sites with ease. This works well because WooCommerce Rest API works on HTTP requests i.e. GET, POST, PUT, DELETE; all available universally over the internet.
As a result, enabling interoperability over multiple websites for data sharing irrespective of their environment. Centralizing all updates and modifications as well as the management becomes handy for large WooCommerce business owners.
5. Third-Party Content is Available with Ease
WooCommerce stores have varied data storage on multiple physical servers. Earlier, in order to access that data or information, custom API’s were required. After Rest API, no such dependencies are underlying.
You just need to make all your website’s content independent of all programming languages as well as the environment. After that, you would be able to source material from anywhere and display it in any way you want.
Rest API enables you to access all third-party application-based data, create new plugins or solutions on your own WooCommerce dashboard.
6. WooCommerce Backend on WordPress Becomes Optional
Interoperability at any device lets your WooCommerce backend become fully optional for you. Yes, you heard that right. The Rest API is very much versatile in nature that the developers are all engaged with free hand on their familiar environments. If someone wants to build an admin area, they now can.
Your WooCommerce website’s admin area would become more flexible and be ready to be replaced with themes and plugins with the Rest API.
7. Develop Mobile Applications with Ease
The WooCommerce REST API is also great news for anyone looking for mobile apps development. Applications are still the preferred reason for extensive mobile usage. With a RESTful API, WooCommerce can now easily link applications together with the existing website.
8. Reduced Overall Production Time
You can easily reduce your overall production time through the Rest API deployment in your WooCommerce store’s core functionality. In other words, Rest API offers automated data synchronization on multiple websites simultaneously; offering free hand and reducing the production time.
9. Real-Time Integration and Customization
The data synchronization feature of Rest API allows you to easily create, update, delete, and retrieve data and information from any website or third-party application.
10. Ease of Access
WooCommerce plugin provides outstanding custom additions to the WordPress API, providing you with access to all of your e-commerce data including your regular posts and pages.
11. Safe and Sound
WooCommerce Rest API offers a safe and sound authentication process in order to share and retrieve data from different platforms. Both cookie (for plugin and themes) and oAuth (for desktop, mobile, and web clients) authentication methods are available with the Rest API in order to limit third-party actions.
Now, as you are all aware of the outstanding features of Rest API for your WooCommerce store, do you want to dive deeper? Let’s proceed then.
4 Steps To Get Started With The Rest API On Your WooCommerce Store
Step 1. Develop Basic Familiarity with your WooCommerce Rest API
Before employing the Rest API functionality within your WooCommerce store, you need to be clear about the basic terminologies. I’ve listed a few basic terms below for your convenience-
A route is a URL that can be mapped along with different HTTP methods. Such routes traverse for an endpoint forming a connection between an individual HTTP method and a route i.e. /wp-json/.
It is a command which is used for adding resources to the server i.e. posts, attachments, or any other resource.
Ex. POST http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/
It is also a command that is used to retrieve a resource i.e. posts or some other data on request.
Ex. GET http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/?status=published
This command lets you edit or update any sort of existing resource lying on your server already.
Ex. POST http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/?status=draft then PUT http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/567
This command lets you remove a resource which is already existing on your server. If you delete a resource using this command, it will then land in the trash and can be restored. But if you want to delete any resource permanently, kindly employ the command with force.
Ex. DELETE http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/567 or DELETE http://yoursite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/567?force=true
It stands for Single Page Applications.
It is the WordPress Command Line Interface that lets you access as well as help you work with WordPress via Command Line Interface (CLI) on your computer.
It is an instance of WP_REST_Request, used to store and retrieve information for the request received.
It provides you with the data requested and returns an error. The error returned to let you know basically what went wrong within your request parameter.
Controller classes are the management block of your Rest API-based functionality and processing.
Schema is a list of all properties and input parameters which are accepted and returned by the Rest API to process the requests.
Now, you are done with all the basic terminologies of the Rest API, your next step is Authentication. Let’s move into that.
Step 2. Prepare for Rest API based Authentication Processing
In order to access the data from other WooCommerce websites using the Rest API, you need to authenticate your identity initially. Therefore, you need to perform authentication, meanwhile generating API keys i.e. Consumer Key and Secret Key stating the permissions beforehand with proper description.
For example, you can refer to screenshots given below-
These key sets are quite important, you might required them in order to start with the Rest API integration on your WooCommerce website’s core functionality. For this, firstly navigate to your WordPress dashboard and enable the Rest API options under the WooCommerce Setting < API section. In addition, also enable the Rest API checkbox to further save your changes performed.
After that, switch to Key/Apps generating a secret key. This key generated would act as your secret password while connecting to Rest API later.
Generate API key completing the initial process. Make sure to save the keys somewhere safe as you might need them for further proceedings. For instance, you can also refer to the below screenshot too-
Let’s proceed to further steps then.
Step 3. Specify the Requirements Referring the Documentation
You have already learned about the Rest API and its functionality as well as the applications but still unknown to its basic working. So, let’s make ourselves familiar with the innermost workings of the WooCommerce Rest API referring to the WooCommerce Rest API Documentation.
Each and every application is different and one of its kind. Instead of learning every different application call in Rest API, better make yourself familiar with different Rest API endpoints.
The documentation helps you to learn as well assist you in initial experimentation with your WooCommerce website with Rest API. Below we have listed few gains, do have a look-
You can easily learn about the basic version requirements for WordPress and WooCommerce for Rest API integration.
The documentation also helps you develop familiarity with the JSON request and response with ease, as it is the basic data-sharing method preferred here.
You can also boost your debugging strategies by referring to the documentation, as it helps you learn all basic error codes.
You can easily learn about the integration tools and resources through the documentation.
Additionally, you can easily experiment with your WooCommerce store with Rest API functionalities. In other words, you can make yourself familiar with the WP-CLI and create, retrieve, and modify your WooCommerce store’s data i.e. products, orders, customer data, posts, etc. using commands.
You can also have a demo of different command-based functionalities in check i.e GET, POST, DELETE, PUT, REQUEST, etc.
Additionally, you can also learn to integrate your native language-based application with your WooCommerce website using Rest API.
The documentation is all full of information regarding your WooCommerce Rest API smooth integration. You just need to learn and implement checking out the appropriate examples listed there.
After that, you can easily proceed to the next step.
Step 4. Start Integrating
Rest API is quite flexible and interoperable within multiple platforms including WooCommerce as well as with the other platforms which are not even related to WordPress. It is an appealing feature of Rest API actually.
After completing the authentication process and learning through documentation, you are now all set to integrate with different websites as well as third-party applications for data and functionality sharing. Now, you can easily-
Build your WooCommerce website’s application using the React Native framework, depending upon your customer’s prerequisites.
Synchronize your product data or other information easily from multiple websites conveniently within your WooCommerce website catalog.
Create different web and desktop applications for your customers’ ease as well as enabling them to easily manage their present and past order-related data on their preferred platforms.
Test beta version for your existing WooCommerce website; keeping data in sync as well as avoiding data loss.
Want To Learn About Your WooCommerce Development Services?
Major Considerations Regarding Rest API Incorporation On WooCommerce
Rest API is all flourished with power-packed functionalities for your WooCommerce store. But, there’s still a catch. You cannot make use of all your Rest API-based approaches all the time and everywhere.
In order to explain well, we have listed major considerations in Rest API implementations that might act as issues later-
1. Device Compatibility
Although, such devices are getting rare. Still, you might face issues if you have planned to develop native applications for such devices. Therefore, make sure about the device compatibility first before employing your Rest API-based native app to that.
2. Browser Accessibility
3. Platform Accessibility
It is far better to initially have a visual demo or preview of your website or application before making it live in order to avoid the mishap.
4. SEO Related Issues
While employing Rest API within your WooCommerce website’s core functionality, there’s a possibility that SEO might land issues i.e. SPA pages. Yes, you heard that right. SPA or the Single Page Application might cause issues sometimes as they refresh on a frequent basis. Therefore, such pages might lose data inputs initially resulting in unindexed pages more often.
Although search engines are working on the issues in order to avoid mishaps, still it is a hedgehog in the process.
5. Data Sharing Issues
While employing a Rest API within your WooCommerce website’s core in order to integrate third-party applications, make sure about the data-sharing guidelines. There is a possibility that any third party site which you have integrated may access your data easily using Rest API.
If you want to avoid such data share, then you can easily disable that by employing Disable WP Rest API plugin.
This plugin effectively disables the Rest API for anyone who isn’t logged within your WooCommerce website keeping track of inevitable data share.
Present And Future Foresight Of Rest API With Reference To WooCommerce
Ease of Support on API Infrastructure
Interoperability and flexibility are attractive features of the Rest API. Most issues are solved already; still, possibilities are there.
In the coming future, hopefully, the possibility of porting your WooCommerce website products (or plugins) to other platforms might also jolt the battle up. This is really exciting news for WordPress developers.
Abolish Need for Generic API
Hopefully, in the coming future, Rest API would be abolishing the requirement for Generic API key for authentication purposes. You just need to create an API key for your get-set-go on the way to power up your ordinary WooCommerce store with Rest API.
Shape Itself as “The New WordPress”
Soon, Rest API would shape itself to be the reflection of the actual WordPress; replacing the need for CMS (content management system) even for a website. In other words, there’s no limit to applications of Rest API, you just need to employ them wisely.
There are numerous applications that have already used of the exciting possibilities of Rest API, a few of them are listed below-
Real-World Applications Making Use of Rest API
For better understanding, do have a look over the introductory video below-
The popular editor from WordPress i.e. Gutenberg Editor has also adapted to Rest API functionalities. Now, it can easily interact with your database creating blocks for you.
Quite handy no? Yes, that’s the power of Rest API.
Increase Demand for WordPress Professionals
Rest API with WordPress is all set to discover new dimensions in the coming future. Hopefully, the need for dashboard management and CMS would become optional or replaced with some better options.
Rest API can surely mold the complexities in the development and management of your WooCommerce website more flexible for developers. All in all, Rest API would automatically support anything that you can throw at it. As a result, developers in WordPress would be valued high.
Interested In Pacing The Fuss For WordPress Development?
The Rest API journey wasn’t easy from initiation, and it is still on the path of development and modifications. It is a powerful addition to the WooCommerce core and developers have already started uncovering its capabilities.
Although, major scaffolding has already been integrated with the core functionalities of WordPress. There’s still a tough debate about the implementation of endpoint functionalities.
What’s your clutch on REST API?
Have you also utilized it for your WooCommerce projects? Brief us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.
A dev-turned-writer, Bhagyashree. She has been this way because of her passion for reading and blogging. She has always been an avid reader of; books, narratives, etc. Her urge to explore new things is what fuel her enthusiasm. Reading, being outside, and traveling are her favorite free time activities. Rather than just a mere profession, she views content creation as an emotion.