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Editor’s note: This article was updated by the editorial team on December 2, 2022. It has been revised to include the most recent sources and to meet current editorial standards.
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Application programming interfaces (APIs) are everywhere. They allow software to seamlessly communicate with other software—internally or externally—which is an important factor in scalability, not to mention usability.
Public APIs are common in online services these days. This allows other developers to easily integrate features such as social media access, credit card payments and behavioral tracking. the
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The REST API is used to access and manipulate data using a set of stateless operations. These operations are part of the HTTP protocol and, although not pure, represent the functionality required for create, read, update, and delete (CRUD):
By using HTTP events and resource names as addresses, we can build a Node.js REST API by creating an endpoint for each operation. By implementing a template, we have a solid, understandable foundation that allows us to quickly develop code and save it later. The same base is used to integrate other features, many of which use a REST API, which speeds up integration.
In this tutorial, we will create a secure (and very practical) REST API for this resource
We use JSON Web Tokens (JWT) for access tokens. For that we create another resource called
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It expects the user’s email and password and instead generates a token that is used for authentication in certain actions. (Dejan Milosevic’s excellent article on JWT for secure REST applications in Java goes into more detail on this; the principles are the same.)
First, make sure you have the latest version of Node.js installed. For this article, I’m using version 14.9.0; it can also work with older versions.
Then make sure MongoDB is installed. We won’t explain the specifics of Mongoose and MongoDB used here, but to run the basics, run the server interactively (ie from the command line).
) but not as a service. This is because at some point in this tutorial we need to connect to MongoDB directly, rather than using Node.js code.
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Note: With MongoDB, you don’t need to create custom databases like you do with some RDBMS platforms. The first inbound call to Node.js code automatically triggers its creation.
This tutorial does not cover all the code required for a working project. Instead, you can bookmark the partner repo and follow the basics as you read. But you can also copy from the repo to your own files and snippets if needed.
Congratulations! You now have all the dependencies and configurations you need to run the Node.js REST API.
To create a user model in a user schema, we use Mongoose, the Object Data Modeling (ODM) library for MongoDB.
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After that, we can use this template to perform all the CRUD operations we want on our Express.js endpoint.
Currently, the only valid text result is the ID of the created user:
Now we need to know if the user exists. For this, we introduce the feature “get user by ID”.
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Note that we can see the hashed password. Specify the password for this tutorial, but the best practice is to never reveal the password, even if it is encrypted. Another thing we’ll see
By repeating the pattern set above, users can add functionality to the update. to use
Function because it allows us to send only the fields we want to change. So Express.js will be the way to go
, and pass any fields we want to change. We also need to implement additional authentication because changes must be limited to the user or administrator in question and only an administrator can modify.
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. We’ll skip it for now and come back to it when we introduce the authentication module. Now the controller will look like this:
By default, we send an HTTP 204 with no response body to indicate that the request was successful.
We now have all the functions needed to manage the user resource and the user management is complete. The point of this code is to give you the basics of using the REST model. We need to return to this code to implement some authentication and permissions, but first we need to start setting up security. Let’s create an authentication module.
By implementing the Authorization and Authentication Middleware module, we should be able to generate a valid token for the current user. We generate a JWT in response to the user providing a valid email and password. JWT allows users to make multiple requests without multiple authentications. It usually has an expiration date, and a new token is regenerated every few minutes to maintain the connection. For this tutorial, we’ll skip the token update and keep it simple with one token per record.
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Although we will not update the parameters in this tutorial, the controller is set to make it easier to implement such a generation in the next edit.
After defining these conditions, we require a middleware that checks if the user is using a valid JWT. Middleware
We can use the bitwise AND operator (bit masking) to control permissions. If we set each required resolution to the power of 2, we can treat each bit of a 32-bit integer as one resolution. Then admin can get all permissions by setting permission value to 2147483647. This user has access to all paths. As another example, a user with an allowed value of 7 would have an allowed role set bit for values of 1, 2, and 4 (0, 1, and two powers of 2). .
Middleware is generic. If the user’s authorization level and required access level match at least one, the result is greater than zero and we can allow the operation to continue; otherwise, HTTP code 403 is returned.
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This concludes the core development of the Node.js REST API. It remains only to test everything.
Insomnia is a decent REST client with a nice free version. The best practice is of course to integrate code testing and implement appropriate error reporting in the project, but third-party REST clients are good for testing and implementing third-party solutions when error reporting and debugging services are not available. We use it to play the role of an application and understand what is happening with the API.
If we don’t do this now after implementing the authorization middleware, all requests except for registration will return HTTP code 401. If a valid token is in place, get the following response:
As mentioned earlier, it shows all scenes for educational purposes and simplicity. Passwords (typed or otherwise) should not be displayed in the response.
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The number of users is from 1 to 7 (even 5 is fine, since the free and paid license levels are specified as 1 and 4, respectively.) This can be done manually in MongoDB in an interactive query, for example (id changed). to local response):
As a confirmation of a successful operation, we expect a 204 response, but the user can be asked for confirmation again.
Finally, we need to delete the user. We need to create a new user as mentioned above (don’t forget to mark the user
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