CRUD vs. REST: Uncovering the Differences and Similarities for Effective Application Development

CRUD vs. REST: Uncovering the Differences and Similarities for Effective Application Development

When it comes to APIs, there are two major concepts that often cause confusion: CRUD and REST.

While both are essential in the world of API development, they serve different purposes and have unique characteristics. It's important for API developers and data engineers to understand the relationship between CRUD operations and REST architecture when dealing with low-code platforms like ToolJet for seamless application development..

By understanding the entirety of these concepts, developers can build efficient and high-performing APIs. So, let's dive in and unravel the complexities of both CRUD and REST APIs. In this detailed guide, we will delve into the intricacies of CRUD and REST, explore their similarities and differences, and shed light on their respective roles in modern application development.

What is CRUD?

CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update, and Delete. It refers to the four fundamental operations used to interact with databases. Whether you're working with a traditional relational database or a more modern NoSQL database, CRUD operations play a crucial role in data manipulation.

To understand CRUD operations in action, let's consider a real-world example. Imagine a user booking a trip through an online travel service app. In this scenario, the application creates a reservation record when the user makes a booking, reads available hotel and room information, updates the list of available rooms after a reservation is confirmed, and deletes the reservation record if the user cancels the request. Similar operations occur in various transaction-processing applications.

CRUD Operations

Let's take a closer look at each CRUD operation and its significance:

  • Create: The create operation involves adding new records to a database. In relational database management systems (RDBMS), this operation is equivalent to the INSERT command. In NoSQL databases like MongoDB, the syntax may vary, but the essence remains the same.
  • Read: The read operation retrieves records from a database based on specific criteria. In RDBMS, the read operation is performed using the SELECT command. It allows you to query and fetch data from the database. In NoSQL databases, the corresponding expressions will depend on the platform and data structures used.
  • Update: The update operation modifies existing records in a database. In RDBMS, this operation is performed using the UPDATE command. It allows you to change specific fields or values within a record. Similarly, NoSQL databases offer their own set of commands for updating data.
  • Delete: The delete operation removes records from a database. In RDBMS, this operation is performed using the DELETE command. It permanently eliminates one or more records from the database. NoSQL databases also provide commands for deleting records.

In NoSQL databases, the expressions corresponding to CRUD operations vary depending on the platform, data structures, and programming language.

For example, in MongoDB:













, or






In Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS), CRUD operations are commonly executed via stored procedures, functions, or triggers. These pre-compiled SQL statements are stored within the database itself and can be executed when needed. This approach adds an additional layer of abstraction and often enhances both performance and security.

On the other hand, NoSQL databases tend to have a more straightforward approach. The API application code sends commands directly to the database driver, which translates them into the database's query language and executes them. This approach offers greater flexibility but requires increased attention to validation and security in the application code, as there is no inherent abstraction layer provided by stored procedures or similar constructs.

What is REST?

REST, which stands for REpresentational State Transfer, is an architectural style for building applications, particularly web APIs.

REST APIs follow certain principles and allow client applications and other APIs to interact with them via API endpoints. These APIs are commonly used in modern applications, including weather services, video streaming platforms, social media platforms, and ride-sharing applications.

Let's take another real-world example of a weather API. Imagine a developer wants to build an application that fetches weather data for a particular location. They could use a REST API to achieve this. The API would have endpoints for different types of weather data, such as temperature, humidity, and wind speed.

The developer would send a GET request to the API endpoint with the location as a parameter. The API would then respond with the requested data in a format such as JSON or XML. The developer can then use this data to display the weather information in their application. This simple example illustrates how REST APIs work by allowing different systems to communicate and exchange data in a standardized, efficient, and scalable manner.

REST Principles

REST APIs are built on the following principles:

1. Uniform Interface: REST APIs have a consistent and standardized way of interacting with clients. This means that regardless of the client or server implementation, the interface remains uniform and predictable.

2. Client-Server: The client and server operate independently and have separate responsibilities. The server handles the backend functionality, such as data storage and validation, while the client deals with user interfaces and query building.

3. Stateless: REST APIs are stateless, meaning that the server does not store any client state information. Each client request is treated as a new, independent request, without any knowledge of previous requests.

4. Cacheable: REST APIs can specify whether responses are cacheable or non-cacheable. This allows clients to cache responses and improve performance by reducing the need for redundant requests.

5. Layered System: REST APIs can be built in a layered manner, where components like load balancers, firewalls, or gateways can be added without affecting the overall functionality. Each component works independently and interacts only with the layer it is connected to.

6. Code on Demand (optional): REST APIs can optionally allow clients to download and execute code from the server. This feature is rarely used but can provide additional functionality if necessary.

Main Differences between CRUD and REST

While there is some overlap between CRUD and REST, it's important to understand their key differences. Here are the main distinctions:

  • Scope: CRUD operations are specific to databases and focus on data manipulation within the database. On the other hand, REST is an architectural style that encompasses the entire application, including data manipulation, business logic, and user interfaces.
  • Protocol: CRUD operations can use various protocols depending on the database, such as SQL or NoSQL. REST APIs, on the other hand, primarily use the HTTP protocol for communication between clients and servers.
  • Functionality: CRUD operations are limited to the four basic data manipulation functions: create, read, update, and delete. REST APIs, while often utilizing CRUD-like functions, can expose a wide range of functionalities, subroutines, and even other APIs. beyond CRUD, depending on the specific requirements of the application. They offer more flexibility in terms of the operations they can perform.
  • Interoperability: REST APIs are designed to be interoperable and can be consumed by different clients and platforms. CRUD operations, on the other hand, are tightly coupled to the database technology being used and may not be easily portable across different systems.

  • Network Structure: RESTful APIs typically accept client requests over well-defined ports such as 80 or 443 (configurable), while the port for CRUD operations depends on the database server configuration.

Similarities Between REST and CRUD

Although CRUD and REST serve different purposes, there are some similarities between them too. These similarities arise due to the fact that REST APIs often involve the use of CRUD-like functions. Here are a few points of convergence:

  • Data Manipulation: Both CRUD and REST involve data manipulation. CRUD operations directly manipulate data within a database, while REST APIs manipulate data through HTTP requests and responses.
  • HTTP Methods: REST APIs utilize the HTTP protocol, which provides a set of methods for data manipulation. These methods, such as GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, and DELETE, align with CRUD operations to some extent, as they can be used to create, read, update, and delete resources.
  • Resource-Oriented: REST APIs are resource-oriented, meaning that they expose resources that can be created, read, updated, and deleted. This aligns with the concept of CRUD, where data is organized into collections and individual entries.
  • Create, Read, Update, Delete: CRUD operations and RESTful APIs share the same fundamental operations, albeit in different contexts. Both involve creating, reading, updating, and deleting resources, albeit at different levels.
  • Response Handling: Both CRUD operations and RESTful APIs generate responses to inform the requesting party about the success, failure, or warnings associated with the operation. CRUD operations utilize specific response codes defined by the database engine, while RESTful APIs use standard HTTP response codes.

Monitoring Performance of CRUD and REST APIs

To ensure optimal performance of both CRUD operations and RESTful APIs, it's essential to monitor their performance regularly. Here are some best practices for monitoring:

1. Instrumentation and Logging: Implement comprehensive instrumentation and logging mechanisms to capture relevant performance metrics. This includes tracking response times, error rates, and resource utilization.

2. Alerting and Notifications: Set up alerts and notifications to detect and respond to performance issues promptly. This allows for proactive measures to address potential bottlenecks or errors.

3. Performance Testing: Conduct regular performance testing to identify any potential performance issues or bottlenecks. Load testing and stress testing can help simulate real-world scenarios and ensure the system can handle expected workloads.

4. Capacity Planning: Perform capacity planning to estimate future resource requirements based on expected growth. This helps ensure that the system can handle increased loads without compromising performance.

5. Error Monitoring and Debugging: Implement robust error monitoring and debugging mechanisms to quickly identify and resolve issues. This includes analyzing logs, tracking error rates, and implementing effective error handling strategies.

By following these monitoring best practices, developers can identify and address performance issues in both CRUD operations and RESTful APIs, ensuring optimal performance and reliability.


Understanding the difference between CRUD and REST is essential for API developers and data engineers. While CRUD operations focus on data manipulation within databases, REST APIs provide a broader architectural framework for building scalable and interoperable applications. Although there is some overlap, REST goes beyond the basic CRUD operations, allowing for more flexibility and functionality. By grasping the nuances of CRUD and REST, developers can design and implement robust APIs that meet the specific needs of their applications. So, embrace the power of CRUD and REST, and unlock the full potential of your API development endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I implement CRUD operations in a RESTful API?

To implement CRUD operations in a RESTful API, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Use HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) to represent the CRUD operations. For example, use GET for reading data, POST for creating new records, PUT for updating existing records, and DELETE for removing records.
  • Create API endpoints that are based on the resources you're managing. For instance, if you're dealing with a user resource, your endpoints might look like /users for multiple users and /users/{id} for a single user.
  • Implement HTTP status codes to indicate the outcome of each API request. For example, use 200 OK for successful operations, 201 Created for successful POST requests, and 400 Bad Request for invalid requests.
  • Implement proper authentication and authorization mechanisms to ensure data security. Ensure that only authorized users can access your API by implementing authentication and authorization mechanisms like OAuth, JWT, or API keys.
  • Use consistent and intuitive naming conventions for your API endpoints. Stick to a consistent naming convention for your API endpoints to make them intuitive. For example, use plural nouns for resource names like /users or /products.
  • Develop a robust error-handling strategy to catch and handle exceptions. Provide meaningful error messages in the API response to help clients understand what went wrong and how to fix it.

  1. What is the difference between PUT and PATCH methods in RESTful APIs?

The main difference between PUT and PATCH methods in RESTful APIs lies in the way they update resources:

PUT replaces the entire resource with the new representation provided in the request. If any fields are missing, they will be set to null or default values.

PATCH, on the other hand, updates only the specified fields in the resource, leaving the rest unchanged. It allows for partial updates without affecting other fields.

  1. Is it possible to perform batch operations using RESTful APIs?

Yes, it is possible to perform batch operations using RESTful APIs. One approach is to use the HTTP PATCH method with a payload that contains an array of operations to be performed on multiple resources. Each operation can specify the resource, the fields to be updated, and the new values.

Another approach is to design a custom endpoint specifically for batch operations, where you can send an array of resources to be created, updated, or deleted in a single request.

  1. How can I handle related resources and relationships in a RESTful API?

To handle related resources and relationships in a RESTful API, you can use the following techniques:

  1. Use nested resources to represent relationships between entities. For example, /users/{userId}/posts can be used to retrieve all posts belonging to a specific user.
  2. Use query parameters to filter related resources. For example, /posts?author={authorId} can be used to retrieve all posts written by a specific author.
  3. Use hypermedia links (HATEOAS) to provide navigation between related resources. Each resource can contain links to other related resources, allowing clients to discover and access them.

5. What are some best practices for versioning RESTful APIs when implementing CRUD operations?

When versioning RESTful APIs for CRUD operations, consider the following best practices:

To ensure smooth API versioning, you can follow these best practices:

  • Use the API version in the URL or request headers: Clearly indicate the desired API version either in the URL or in the request headers.
  • Avoid breaking changes: Instead of introducing breaking changes, add new endpoints or fields while maintaining backward compatibility.
  • Document and communicate deprecation and removal: Clearly document and communicate the deprecation and removal of older API versions to allow clients to adapt and make necessary changes.
  • Use semantic versioning: Implement semantic versioning to indicate the level of change in each version, whether it's a major, minor, or patch update.
  • Content negotiation: Consider using content negotiation or media types to handle different versions of representations, allowing clients to specify the desired version.
  • Provide proper documentation and examples: Implement comprehensive documentation and provide examples that help clients understand and migrate to new versions of the API