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API Methods: A Practical Guide for All Developers

API Methods: A Practical Guide for All Developers
A stylized image of someone working at a laptop.

What is an API?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a means through which different applications or programs communicate/interchange data. APIs are widely used today by many organizations to transmit and manipulate data between applications. They can be used in nearly all digitalized industries, including banking, education, health, and sports.

With APIs, an Application A can send a response to or request info from another Application B over specified API methods. For example, assume you wish to send money to a friend's bank account using payment platforms like Stripe or PayPal. It’s via APIs that these payment platforms are able to communicate with your friend's bank and the money gets sent to your friend's account. You need APIs to establish interactions between software programs (e.g., yours and that of other organizations).

In this article, you will learn about APIs, how they work, and their structure. You will also learn about some of the most used API methods, such as GET, POST, DELETE, PATCH, and PUT. You’ll learn how to "call" (communicate with) APIs using JavaScript as well as Postman. You will also learn about HTTP status codes, and lastly, how to handle errors when calling APIs.


REST APIs use HTTP requests to access data from API endpoints. These requests are done via API methods (which are covered in a later section of this article), and their requests and responses are represented in JSON format.

Assume Stripe needs to retrieve your friend's account details from Bank X.

Stripe sends a request (also known as payload) to an API endpoint (e.g., https://bankx.api.com/accounts) provided by Bank X using a GET method. The request body will look like this:

// Stripe sends a request to https://bankx.api.com/accounts
accountNumber: 2974044820

If successful, Bank X's API returns a response containing your friend's details. Otherwise, it returns an error indicating that your request wasn't successful. Here's what a typical API response looks like:

// Bank X replies with a response
name: "Oyindamola Rowaiye"
accountNumber: 2974044820

In JavaScript, the fetch() function can be used to communicate with the API server. It basically accepts two arguments—a URL and an object which is used to specify the request method and other necessary information. You can read more about the fetch() method if you’d like to learn more.

Base URLs and Endpoints

An API’s base URL is a consistent URL to which all endpoints are attached. Endpoints, on the other hand, are various resource locations to which you can send requests and get responses. Think of endpoints as doors to rooms with various resources. Different endpoints return different kinds of data. In the example above, https://bankx.api.com is the base URL while /accounts is the endpoint that returns user account details and together they form the API endpoint. Without one, the other will yield an error; therefore, every endpoint must have a relative base URL. Typically, an API has several endpoints, e.g., https://bankx.api.com/USSD, https://bankx.api.com/users, https://bankx.api.com/cards, etc.

API Methods

API methods are methods that determine the kind of request being made to the API endpoint. When sending a request, a method is specified, and based on this method, the server is able to determine what action is needed and the corresponding response to be sent.

To further understand how API methods work, you will get a hands-on approach using sample endpoints created at mockapi.io. The base URL is https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1, while the endpoint is /users which consists of a list of users.

To follow through, you need to either be conversant with the JavaScript fetch() method, which is used for calling APIs, or you must have installed and be able to use Postman, which can be used to test APIs.

GET Method

The GET method is used to retrieve data from the server. This method is one of the most commonly used API methods. It basically queries an endpoint for a particular resource sometimes requiring you to send a request body (payload); other times, it doesn't require a payload.

Using the GET method, you can get the list of users available from the /users endpoint using the JavaScript fetch() method or Postman.

Please note that the default API method used when calling an API using the fetch() method is the GET method. Therefore, it doesn't have to be defined explicitly, unlike other methods.

Here's how API data is retrieved using the GET method:

const baseURL = "https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1";

.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => console.log(data)) // logs list of users
.catch(error => console.log(error.message));

If you noticed, the GET method isn't specified like so:

fetch(`${baseURL}/users`, { method: "GET" })

But, it’s still able to fetch the list of users from the /users endpoint.

Also, you can fetch data for a single user by attaching the ID of the user to the end of the endpoint URL, e.g., users/1, like so:


The fetch() method returns a promise and using the then() method, the response can be converted to JSON. This is done using the json() method, which also returns a promise and finally, the data can be accessed using the then() method again. The catch() method at the last line is used to handle errors should any occur.

POST Method

The POST method is also one of the most commonly used API methods. It is used to send or push data to the API server. It often requires a request body (payload) and is explicitly defined when using the JavaScript fetch() method.

Here's how data is sent to the API server using the POST method:

// new user data to be created in the API server
const newUser = {
fname: "Paul",
paymentMethod: "Direct Deposit",
rate: "750",
hours: 40,
overtimeHours: 4,
salaryAmount: "1500.55",
lname: "Ibeabuchi",
compType: "Salaried",

const baseURL = "https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1";

fetch(`${baseURL}/users`, {
method: "POST",
body: JSON.stringify(newUser)
.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => console.log(data))
.catch(error => console.log(error));

Note that the newUser object was converted to JSON string using the JSON.stringify method, else it will throw an error.


This method is as straightforward as the name implies. It is used to delete a resource (data) from the API server. For this, the method is set to DELETE and the ID of the resource to be deleted is affixed to the end of the endpoint URL like so:

const baseURL = "https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1";
fetch(`${baseURL}/users/12`, {
method: "DELETE"
.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => console.log(data))
.catch(error => console.log(error));


The PATCH method is basically used to update one or more properties in the API data or resource. You have to specify an object containing properties that you want to PATCH and the API server will update the resource data corresponding to the properties you have specified.

The method is set to PATCH and the ID for the resource to be updated is attached to the end of the endpoint like so:

// properties which you want to PATCH (update)
const patchObj = { fname: "Oyindamola Rowaiye" }; // updates name of user with specified id

const baseURL = "https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1";

fetch(`${baseURL}/users/1`, {
method: "PATCH",
body: JSON.stringify(patchObj)
.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => console.log(data))
.catch(error => console.log(error));

PUT Method

The PUT method is much similar to the PATCH method as they are both used to update data in the API server. However, the difference is that the PUT method is more like a "replace" action. Unlike PATCH, where you just specify the property (or properties) to be updated, PUT requires you to include all the properties with values to be updated.

Here's what a PUT request looks like:

// user data to be used for updating a specified user in the API server
const updatedData = {
fname: "Adele",
paymentMethod: "Check",
rate: "200",
hours: 20,
overtimeHours: 0,
salaryAmount: "4000",
lname: "Laurie",
compType: "Hourly",

const baseURL = "https://62ab0faba62365888bd3aea0.mockapi.io/api/v1";

fetch(`${baseURL}/users/5`, {
method: "PUT",
body: JSON.stringify(updatedData)
.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => console.log(data))
.catch(error => console.log(error));

HTTP Status Codes

There are various levels of HTTP status codes, and each signifies different possible situations when a request is made to an API server. The most common ones are:

  • 200: this indicates that the request was successful and no problems were encountered.
  • 400: this signifies a problem with the request being sent to the API server. To resolve this issue, you must make sure that the expected request is sent to the API server.
  • 401: this code indicates that you are not authenticated and cannot access the requested resources. This issue is mostly due to errors in API headers for APIs which requires authentication.
  • 403: this indicates a forbidden request, which means that you do not have access to the resource you're requesting for.
  • 404: this is a very popular error, it basically indicates that you are requesting non-existent data or data from a non-existent resource.
  • 500: this error indicates a problem with the server. It could be that the server is down or is unable to handle the request at the moment.

Handling API Errors

Making a request to a server is not always successful, it is common for errors to occur. Knowing this, it is important to handle possible errors from the API on the client side for a better user experience.

For example, assume you are trying to access a list of users from the /users endpoint which should be displayed in your application's UI. If an error occurs, then you won't receive the list of users as expected, so nothing is displayed in your application UI. For a better user experience, you can handle such errors by displaying an error message (usually returned by an API), indicating to the user that a possible error has occurred.

The catch() method is used to handle errors. You can display some kind of error message (customized messages or API error messages) to your users in the catch() method. You can also display UI to show different errors; for example, most websites display an image for 404 errors.

Asides from being able to chain the catch() method, it can also be used with the try...catch statement where the error is handled in the catch block.


At this point, you've learned what APIs are and why you need them. You have learned what base URLs are and what endpoints are. You are also now able to call APIs using various methods, such as GET, POST, DELETE, PATCH, and PUT. You’ve learned about HTTP status codes and how you can handle errors in your application.

The use of APIs today is almost inevitable. They’re extremely useful for building large applications with interconnected parts. Jump on the bandwagon today and build your applications using APIs!

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