Adventures in Machine Learning

Building Robust RESTful APIs with Django Rest Framework (DRF)

Creating a RESTful API with Django Rest Framework (DRF)

Are you trying to build a RESTful API for your website or application? Django Rest Framework (DRF) offers a comprehensive toolkit to help you construct fully functional APIs fast and easy.

With DRF, you can create endpoints, define resources, and specify HTTP methods with minimal effort. Let’s take a look at the essential components of building a RESTful API with DRF.

RESTful Structure

Building RESTful APIs requires adhering to some standard rules for structuring API endpoints and handling HTTP requests. The endpoints represent specific data locations that users can access with HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.

A resource refers to a collection of objects that you want to expose to the API. Each resource has its own endpoint and is defined by a specific URL.

The HTTP methods specified for each endpoint are used to manipulate the data assigned to that resource. The combination of HTTP methods and resource endpoints make up the core of a RESTful API.

DRF Quick Start

To start building a DRF API, you first need to install the package. DRF supports the latest version of Django (3.2), but it also runs on earlier versions.

In this article, we’ll use DRF version 2.4.2, which is compatible with Django 1.5 and above. After installing DRF, you can begin constructing your API.

One of the first steps is to define a serializer. DRF serializers are used to represent the data returned by your API in different formats like Python dictionaries, JSON, or XML.

The ModelSerializer class is often used to create serializers from Django models automatically.

Refactor for REST

Once you have your ModelSerializer in place, you’ll need to refactor some of your existing code to work with RESTful API requests. The most basic RESTful request is the GET request, which retrieves data from a resource and is frequently used for asynchronous requests from AJAX.

You might also need to use JSON format for dates in your data. MomentJS is a helpful tool that handles date formats in JSON that need to be compatible with Javascript’s date object.

To handle POST requests, you’ll need to create a request.DATA object that holds the data being submitted. Deserialization of the data is handled automatically by DRF with the use of serializers.

Author Format

DRF offers SlugRelatedField, which is very useful for updating and saving data for foreign relationships. In the case of modifying the author field, you might consider updating the field by using a SlugRelatedField to reference the user who authored the post.


When you receive a DELETE request, it’s essential to respond with a 204 response to indicate that the request was successful and that the server has not sent any response body.

Additional Features and Challenges

Updating Posts with PUT Request

Updating data with a PUT request is similar to creating a POST request. You would need to identify the data you’re looking to modify using a URL.

Then the user would input new data into an HTML input box. The edited_by field could be used to keep track of changes made by different users.

However, you might need to handle permissions issues that arise from multiple users working on the same data set.

Conclusion and Next Steps

With DRF, you can create well-organized APIs quickly and efficiently. Adding Angular is an excellent next step to take your API to the next level.

Writing tests is also a crucial step for improving the robustness of your API. Adding notes and email notifications can help improve recordkeeping and communication between developers.

Don’t forget to identify and prioritize low hanging fruit; small changes can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your API. In this article, we explored the foundations of constructing a RESTful API with Django Rest Framework.

By following some basic rules for structuring endpoints and handling HTTP methods, DRF can help you create fully-functional APIs quickly and effortlessly. Key concepts included creating a ModelSerializer, handling GET and POST requests, and managing author information.

Additional challenges such as permissions and user interactions with PUT requests were also discussed. Overall, creating a RESTful API is an important consideration for developers, and DRF is an essential toolkit to get the job done.

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