Drupal Web Services

Web services, APIs, structured data. These things are all the rage right now and with good reason. As more and more internet enabled devices start wanting to make use of the data in our websites we need to give them some way to interact with that data that isn't point and click in a browser. Enter the Drupal 7 services module.

In this series Joe Shindelar will walk through using the services module and teach you how to create a RESTful web services API that exposes Drupal's internal data like nodes and users as JSON or XML that can be easily consumed by a huge variety of clients and programming languages. Paving the way for allowing access to the data contained within your Drupal site to any number of native mobile applications, partner websites, or even internet enabled refrigerators.

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The first few lessons in the series are focused more on theory and explaining the various terms that are used both in Drupal and the wider web development sphere to describe web services and all the pieces. Including a description of REST itself and an explanation for why it's a good fit. As well as some discussion about Drupal 7's content model and the ways that it lends itself nicely to serializing data into various formats via the services module in order to be consumed in structured and meaningful ways.

Throughout the series we'll see a couple of examples of how to first enable Drupal to return requested data elements as JSON and then subsequently how to properly format an HTTP request to retrieve those elements. Joe will demonstrate making requests to the API via both cURL and the Chrome REST Console. Doing so will help students to learn about both the Drupal configuration that is required and the way in which any 3rd party applications can request data from Drupal via concrete examples.

With the basics of creating an endpoint and making simple requests out of the way Joe will demonstrate how to enable authentication via the services module and then use both cURL and the REST Console to explain the authentication handshake. A somewhat complex exchange of a username & password for a session authentication token that takes place in HTTP requests and headers whenever you want to perform an action via the API that requires an authenticated user. Learning how this works will enable to you create 3rd party applications that can access Drupal as a specific user allowing for greater personalization.

After that Joe looks at ways to integrate the lists that site administrators create using the views module with services in order to output their contents as structured data. As wall as ways to use views to create entirely new custom services resources. Followed by an example of leveraging the power of views exposed filters via services.

Finally, for those scenarios where you simply can't point and click your way to an answer Joe will teach you how to implement your own custom services resources for both saving and retrieving data from within Drupal. Demonstrating the basic knowledge required to allow you to use services to solve all of your own custom API needs.

Things you'll be able to do after completion of this series:

  • Understand the basic principals of both web services and RESTful APIs.
  • Explain why Drupal is a good fit for web applications that want to allow 3rd party clients to access their data.
  • Create a RESTful web services API using the services module for Drupal 7.
  • Retrieve data from your Drupal site in both JSON and XML format.
  • Create new nodes in Drupal via web services.
  • Make authenticated requests to Drupal via web services.
  • Integrate the views module with services to retrieve views data in various formats.
  • Write your own module providing custom services data and actions.
  • Create meaningful documentation that will enable others to take advantage of your newly created service.

This series provides information about the services module for both intermediate and advanced Drupal users. Since this module makes use of basic Drupal site building skills and custom views users should be familiar with those topics. Also, while not required knowledge of running commands via the command line will be helpful. Finally, if you want to write your own custom services resources you'll need to understand basic module development.

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6m15s // Site Building, Module Development, Drupal 7
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14m1s // Site Building, Module Development, Drupal 7
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Starting with Drupal 8 and continuing with Drupal 9, has a rapidly developing and powerful toolset for working with web services. More and more sites are moving to a decoupled CMS architecture. Even if you are not creating a fully decoupled site, exposing aspects of your site through a web service API is a common task in modern web development. This series will teach you everything you need to know in order to use Drupal core and contributed modules to build a web services API with Drupal as the backend.

This series looks at important topics regarding the architecture of your API like presentation versus content, security, and documentation. It also examines common pitfalls in REST APIs and how to address them in order to ensure consistency and performance. Throughout the series the examples are primarily focused on creating a REST API that uses the JSON API specification, but the concepts apply equally well to GraphQL or other formats.

For the purpose of this series, we are going to talk about APIs as the collection of features provided by Drupal modules that allow us to read and write content (nodes, taxonomy terms, users, etc.) and configuration (blocks, menus, permissions, etc.) using HTTP messages. During the course of this series, we will assume some level of familiarity with HTTP concepts such as its methods (often called verbs) and headers. However, we'll provide links to additional resources for these concepts along the way, just in case you need a refresher.

Note: Just getting started with the idea of decoupling, or the concept of headless Drupal? Take a look at our Decoupled Drupal series to learn what these terms mean, and when and why you might want to build a web services API with Drupal. Then come back here and learn how to do exactly that.

Author, Mateu Aguiló Bosch

We are very honored to present this series written by Mateu Aguiló Bosch (e0ipso). Mateu is one of the creators of the Drupal JSON API module, amongst others, and a member of the Drupal 8 API-first initiative team. He's also part of the team that created Contenta CMS, an API-first Drupal distribution designed to be a great platform for decoupled Drupal projects.

Free
Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

The term web services has been around for quite a while. Given that web services is such a broad topic, let's define what web services are and how we are going to refer to them throughout this series so we are all on the same page.

This tutorial is an introduction to web services that will help you:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Traditional Drupal development using the render pipeline allows you to ignore the pitfalls of mixing content and presentation logic in your data model. In a scenario with multiple distribution channels, this separation becomes of critical importance.

In this tutorial we will learn how to:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

Identifing the fields in your data model that contain presentation data is an important part of documenting and planning your API. Examining your existing data model will help put you in the correct mindset when creating or changing it. It is important to reflect on the implications of each field for each hypothetical consumer (even consumers your API is not serving). This process will improve your content model and your API.

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

In the last several years REST has been the de facto standard for web services. However, there are several common problems when developing websites and digital experiences with the traditional REST implementations. Luckily, those issues have solutions, either complete or partial.

Modern web service spefications like JSON:API and GraphQL implement those solutions, although they differ slightly in their implementation.

In this tutorial we will learn about:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

The JSON:API module is our recommended starting point for creating REST APIs with Drupal. JSON:API module is now part of Drupal core as of 8.7, so installing the module no longer requires a separate download step.

In this tutorial we'll:

Drupal 8 Rest

  • Walk through installing the JSON:API module for Drupal
  • Look at what you get out of the box with the JSON:API module

By the end of this tutorial you should be able to install the JSON:API module, and know what tools it provides you with.

Goal

Install the JSON:API module and test it out.

Free
Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Being able to retrieve resources from an API is a fundamental first step.

In this tutorial we will learn how to:

  • Issue an HTTP request to extract information about a node from the JSON:API server
  • Examine the response from the server

By the end of this tutorial you should know how to use an HTTP Get request to return a resource from the JSON:API server, and know what the default response for the resource will contain.

Goal

Request a node from the JSON:API server using an HTTP Get request.

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Drupal allows for a rich data model where entity reference fields can be used to relate any number of different items together in different ways. The data models that you can build with Drupal are often prolific in relationships, which means we need a way to handle these in our API. While Drupal treats a field with a string, and a field with an entity reference the same, JSON:API distinguishes between attributes and relationships.

In this tutorial we'll:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

JSON:API includes a way to request a list of entities of a given resource from the server. Collections are the best way to find content based on filters, and to build listings into the consumers. Moreover, collections can be combined with all the options you can apply to a single resource, like sparse fieldsets and includes.

Drupal

In this tutorial we'll:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Embedding resources at the consumer's demand is one of the crucial features of a modern API. We mentioned in Modern Web Services with JSON:API and GraphQL that multiple round trips to the server is harmful for performance. This issue can be overcome by making a request that embeds any required related resources into the response for the resource we're retrieving.

In this tutorial, we'll learn how to use JSON:API's include parameter to embed resources in a response.

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

By default, the JSON:API returns all the available data for an object in its response. Using JSON:API sparse fieldsets you can increase the performance of your consumer application by reducing the fields in the returned response object to just those that you need.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to reduce the output to get exactly the information that we need from the API.

This is one of the most important features of modern APIs like JSON:API.

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Collections are a very powerful feature because they allow us to access multiple items at the same time. However, in many situations we do not want to access all the entities of a given type, but only the ones that meet some specific criteria. In order to reduce the set of entities in the collection to the ones we care about, we use filters.

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

Includes and filters are really powerful features. When combined together you can achieve almost any query your consumer application needs. Fancy filters we mentioned in a previous tutorial allow us to filter a collection based on fields of related entities, in addition to the fields directly under that entity.

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

When you are implementing an HTTP API for a decoupled project, one of the critical, but often overlooked, aspects is the API documentation. Documenting your API will allow front-end developers (and you six months from now) to learn how to use that particular API.

In Drupal, there are several modules that can read your site configuration and generate documentation for you automatically.

In this tutorial we're going to:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

It is important to have good up-to-date documentation about your web services. Doing so will boost developer productivity in a decoupled project. Drupal offers several tools that help maintain your API documentation with minimal effort.

In this tutorial we'll:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

In a monolithic architecture (non-decoupled) there is an implicit proof that the user in the front-end is the same one in the back-end. This empowers the front-end to offload all the authentication and authorization to the back-end, typically using a session cookie. In a decoupled architecture there will be multiple consumers, and some of them will not support using cookies. There are several alternatives to session cookies to authenticate our requests in a decoupled project.

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

The Simple OAuth module can be used to configure Drupal as an OAuth 2 authentication provider. Doing so will allow third-party applications to authenticate users using any of the OAuth flows, and validate their roles and permissions.

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

In order to authenticate a request against the API server, we need to send an authentication token along with the request. For that we need to first obtain the token from the server. The various ways we can get a token from the server are called grants. Using one of them, we will obtain an access token and a refresh token.

Php Web Services

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 9, Drupal 8

In the previous tutorials, we learned to install and configure the Simple OAuth module. We also learned how to generate authentication tokens using different grants. In this tutorial, we will learn how to use a token to authenticate a request for a given Drupal user, and:

JavaScript applications are the most common type of consumers. They are commonly used to create a website that runs in a web browser. Running decoupled applications in the browser will involve Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), which requires some setup on the Drupal side in order to work.

In this tutorial we'll:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

Often, web services require the user to create content. Votes on content, ratings, comments, and user-submitted stories are good examples of this. The JSON:API module supports the creation of entities by sending data in POST requests.

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

Whenever we need our consumer application to change the contents of an entity we will need to issue a PATCH request. The JSON:API module will process that request and update the entity with the provided values.

In this tutorial, we'll:

  • Define the appropriate HTTP headers for a PATCH request
  • Construct the JSON object used to update an entity
  • Issue a PATCH request that will update an entity in our Drupal backend

By the end of this tutorial, you should know how to update content via the JSON:API.

Remedy Web Nychhc

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

Occasionally we need to remove entities from the backend using the API. REST APIs, and in particular JSON:API, use the HTTP DELETE method to accomplish this.

In this tutorial we'll create a request for deleting a single entity. By the end of this tutorial you should be able to issue requests that can delete any entity via JSON:API.

Drupal Web Services

Goal

Drupal 8 Services

Delete a specific article from the Drupal backend using the JSON:API web service.

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

Sometimes unexpected things happen and Drupal needs to generate an error. The JSON:API specification describes how the server should return those errors. Understanding what to expect allows consumers to plan for errors and react gracefully.

Drupal Rest Api

In this tutorial we will:

Module Development, Drupal 8, Drupal 9

When you enable the JSON:API module you're significantly increasing the attack surface of your application. So it's a good idea to make sure that you understand the implications of doing so, and how to mitigate potential security issues. In most cases it doesn't require much work to do, but it's worth taking the time to make sure you've done it right.

In this tutorial we'll learn: