Best Practices for Building REST APIs with Spring Boot

Creating RESTful APIs with Spring Boot is a powerful and efficient way to develop modern web services. Following best practices ensures your APIs are robust, secure, and maintainable. Here are some best practices for building REST APIs with Spring Boot:

1. Follow RESTful Principles

Use Proper HTTP Methods: Align your API operations with standard HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, PATCH).
  • GET: Retrieve resources.
  • POST: Create new resources.
  • PUT: Update existing resources.
  • DELETE: Remove resources.
  • PATCH: Partially update existing resources.
Use Meaningful URIs: Design URIs that are intuitive and meaningful.
  • Good: /api/users, /api/users/123
  • Bad: /api/getAllUsers, /api/deleteUser

2. Use Standard HTTP Status Codes

Respond with appropriate HTTP status codes to indicate the result of the client's request:
  • 200 OK: Successful GET, PUT, PATCH, DELETE
  • 201 Created: Successful POST
  • 204 No Content: Successful DELETE with no content to return
  • 400 Bad Request: Client-side input fails validation
  • 401 Unauthorized: Authentication required
  • 403 Forbidden: Authorization required
  • 404 Not Found: Resource not found
  • 500 Internal Server Error: General server error

3. Use DTOs (Data Transfer Objects)

Use DTOs to separate your internal data model from the external representation. This helps maintain a clear separation of concerns and improves security.
public class UserDTO {
    private Long id;
    private String username;
    private String email;
    // getters and setters

4. Validate Input 

Use Spring Boot’s validation framework to validate input data and ensure your API handles invalid data gracefully.
import jakarta.validation.constraints.Email;
import jakarta.validation.constraints.NotEmpty;
public class UserDTO {
    @NotEmpty(message = "Username is required")
    private String username;
    @Email(message = "Email should be valid")
    private String email;
    // getters and setters

In your controller, use @Valid to enforce validation:

public class UserController {
    public ResponseEntity<UserDTO> createUser(@Valid @RequestBody UserDTO userDTO) {
        // service call to save user
        return ResponseEntity.status(HttpStatus.CREATED).body(savedUser);

5. Handle Exceptions Gracefully 

Implement global exception handling using @ControllerAdvice and @ExceptionHandler to return meaningful error messages.
public class GlobalExceptionHandler {
    public ResponseEntity<ErrorResponse> handleValidationException(MethodArgumentNotValidException ex) {
        ErrorResponse errorResponse = new ErrorResponse("Validation failed", ex.getBindingResult().toString());
        return new ResponseEntity<>(errorResponse, HttpStatus.BAD_REQUEST);
    public ResponseEntity<ErrorResponse> handleResourceNotFoundException(ResourceNotFoundException ex) {
        ErrorResponse errorResponse = new ErrorResponse("Resource not found", ex.getMessage());
        return new ResponseEntity<>(errorResponse, HttpStatus.NOT_FOUND);
    // other exception handlers

6. Pagination and Sorting 

For endpoints that return lists of data, pagination and sorting should be implemented to avoid returning large datasets.
public ResponseEntity<Page<UserDTO>> getUsers(Pageable pageable) {
    Page<UserDTO> users = userService.getUsers(pageable);
    return ResponseEntity.ok(users);

7. Use HATEOAS (Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State) 

Implement HATEOAS to make your API self-descriptive by providing links to related resources.
import org.springframework.hateoas.RepresentationModel;
public class UserDTO extends RepresentationModel<UserDTO> {
    private Long id;
    private String username;
    private String email;
    // getters and setters
Add links to your resources:
public class UserController {
    public EntityModel<UserDTO> getUser(@PathVariable Long id) {
        UserDTO user = userService.getUser(id);
        EntityModel<UserDTO> resource = EntityModel.of(user);
        return resource;

8. Secure Your APIs 

Use Spring Security to secure your APIs. 
  • Implement authentication and authorization mechanisms to protect your endpoints. 
  • JWT (JSON Web Token): Use JWT for stateless authentication. OAuth2: Use OAuth2 for delegated access. 

9. Version Your APIs 

Implement versioning to manage changes to your API without breaking existing clients. 
Common strategies include URI versioning and header versioning. 
  • URI versioning: /api/v1/users 
  • Header versioning: Accept: application/ 10. 

Document Your APIs 

Use tools like Springdoc OpenAPI to document your APIs. Springdoc OpenAPI generates interactive API documentation that helps developers understand and use your APIs effectively. 

For example:

11. Use Asynchronous Processing 

For long-running operations, use asynchronous processing to improve the responsiveness of your APIs. Spring Boot provides support for asynchronous methods using @Async.
import org.springframework.scheduling.annotation.Async;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Service;
public class AsyncService {
    public CompletableFuture<String> performAsyncTask() {
        // Perform long-running task
        return CompletableFuture.completedFuture("Task completed");

12. Logging and Monitoring 

Implement logging and monitoring to gain insights into the behavior of your APIs. 

Use Spring Boot Actuator for monitoring and tools like Logback or Log4j for logging. Configure Actuator in your


By following these best practices, you can create robust, secure, and maintainable REST APIs with Spring Boot. Adhering to these guidelines helps ensure that your APIs are well-designed, easy to use, and scalable, providing a solid foundation for your microservices architecture.