Top 07 REST API Alternatives & Competitors

Published On May 10th, 2024 Tech Talks

Looking for a REST API Alternative? Here are the 7 best protocols you can use for building your apps and websites. 


Building apps and websites often involves a set of rules called Representational State Transfer (REST). It’s been a popular choice because it’s good at handling a lot of users and keeping app development simple.

But now, there are new ways emerging like event-driven APIs, GraphQL, and gRPC. These alternatives are gaining attention for their features and characteristics.

As these new ways become more popular, it’s important for the developers who create apps to understand how to use them the best way.

In this article, we’ll find out why these alternatives to REST APIs are becoming popular and how these APIs perform better than REST.

What Is Rest API?

REST API, in short for Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface is a set of architectural principles that is used for designing and interacting with web services. It provides a standardized way for different software systems to communicate over the Internet.

Reasons Why Rest API Alternatives Are Gaining Popularity

Developers are increasingly exploring alternatives to REST API. The 5 primary reasons are:

  1. Increasing Complexity: As APIs grow, REST can become harder to manage and modify.

2. Performance Concerns: While REST is scalable, it may not be the best choice for real-time or low-latency applications.

3. Adapting to Data Changes: Adjusting REST for new use cases can lead to versioning and complexity challenges.

4. Tailored Use Case Solutions: Certain protocols are better suited for specific needs, like real-time data streaming or IoT devices.

5. Developer Preferences: Developers may opt for an alternative to REST API based on familiarity or specific features they offer.

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Top 7 Alternatives To Rest APIs

Here’s a list of 7 best REST API alternatives like GraphQL, gRPC, WebSockets, MQTT, EDA, FALCOR, and Serverless Functions that we’ll discuss below:

1. GraphQL


GraphQL is a query language that was developed by Facebook. It is also a flexible runtime that acts as a traditional REST API. 

GraphQL allows clients to request and receive only the data they need, which can lead to more efficient data retrieval and reduced network overhead.

What Are The Key Features Of GraphQL?

  • Single Request for Multiple Resources

GraphQL is a protocol that allows clients to request the exact data they need in a single query. This reduces over-fetching or under-fetching of data.

  • Strongly Typed Schema

In GraphQL, the API is structured by a schema that outlines the types of data that users can request. 
This schema specifies the format and structure of the information available through the API. It serves as a clear guide for developers, ensuring consistency in accessing data. 

  • Real-time Data with Subscriptions

When you use GraphQL, real-time data updates are facilitated through a feature called subscriptions. With subscriptions, clients have the ability to express interest in specific events or changes.
When the server detects relevant updates, it proactively pushes the new data to the subscribed clients. This mechanism allows for instant and automatic updates, ensuring that clients receive the most updated information in real-time.

When the server detects relevant updates, it proactively pushes the new data to the subscribed clients. This mechanism allows for instant and automatic updates, ensuring that clients receive the most updated information in real time.

How Is GraphQL Better Than REST API?

  • Efficient Data Retrieval:

Clients can ask for exactly the information they need, avoiding unnecessary extras. This means they don’t get more data than necessary, making the process of fetching information more efficient. 

This is different from REST API methods, where clients might receive more data than they actually require.

  • Reduced Number of Requests:

With GraphQL, clients can fetch all the required data in a single request, reducing the number of network requests compared to multiple requests needed in a typical REST scenario.

  • Versioning and Evolution:

GraphQL enables backward-compatible changes to the API schema, making it easier to evolve APIs without breaking existing clients. This is in contrast to versioning approaches often used in REST.

2. gRPC


gRPC (gRPC Remote Procedure Call) is a framework developed by Google for building efficient and high-performance RPC (Remote Procedure Call) APIs. 

It prioritizes speed and efficiency by using a compiled protocol and binary serialization. This results in faster data transfer compared to JSON-based REST APIs.

What Are The Key Features Of gRPC?

  • Protocol Buffers (Protobuf)

gRPC uses Protobuf as its interface definition language, providing a concise and efficient binary serialization format for structured data.

  • Bidirectional Streaming

gRPC is like a bidirectional streaming method between client and server. They can exchange messages in a continuous flow.
This is really handy for real-time communication , where information needs to be exchanged quickly and regularly. It’s like having a smooth and ongoing conversation between the client and server.

  • Code Generation

gRPC generates client and server code in multiple languages based on the defined service contract, reducing boilerplate code and improving maintainability.

How Is gRPC Better Than REST API?

  • Efficiency with Binary Protobuf:

gRPC uses a binary serialization format (Protobuf) instead of JSON, resulting in smaller payload sizes and faster data transmission compared to text-based formats used in REST.

  • Multiplexing:

gRPC allows multiple requests and responses to be multiplexed over a single connection, reducing latency and improving overall performance compared to REST, where multiple connections may be needed.

  • Strong Typing and Code Generation:

In gRPC, they use something called Protobuf, which helps create a very clear and strict set of rules for how data should look. This makes sure that everyone understands and follows the same structure. 

With this, the programs can catch mistakes early, reducing the chance of errors when the program is running.

3. WebSockets


WebSockets is a popular real-time communication protocol that enables bi-directional data exchange between clients and servers. It differs from traditional HTTP’s request-response model by maintaining a persistent connection. 

This allows for continuous data streaming and interactive experiences. Also, it makes WebSockets particularly well-suited for apps requiring real-time updates, such as chat apps and online gaming apps.

What Are The Key Features Of WebSockets?

  • Bidirectional Communication

WebSockets enable full-duplex communication, allowing data to be sent and received simultaneously by the client and server.

  • Low Latency

WebSockets provide low-latency communication as they establish and maintain a persistent connection, eliminating the need to repeatedly open and close connections for each request.

  • Real-time Updates

WebSockets are commonly used for real-time communication apps where getting instant communication quickly is really important.

How Is WebSocket Better Than REST API?

While REST operates on a stateless and short-lived conversation, WebSocket creates a low-latency, 2-way, and continuous communication channel. Its other benefits include:

  • Real-time Interaction:

WebSockets excel in real-time scenarios, providing instant communication and updates. This is particularly useful for applications where timely information is critical.

  • Reduced Overhead:

WebSockets have a lower overhead compared to REST when it comes to repeatedly opening and closing connections. This makes them more efficient for scenarios that require frequent data updates.

  • Bi-Directional Communication:

WebSockets facilitate bidirectional communication, allowing both the client and server to exchange messages whenever they want. This differs from the traditional request-response model.



MQTT, otherwise known as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, is a real-time communication protocol for lightweight messaging.  It is particularly used in resource-constrained environments, and for Internet of Things (IoT).

What Are The Key Features Of MQTT?

  • Publish-Subscribe Model

MQTT follows a publish-subscribe model, where devices can publish messages to a topic, and other devices subscribe to receive messages from specific topics.

  • Quality of Service Levels

MQTT supports different Quality of Service (QoS) levels for message delivery, providing flexibility in choosing the trade-off between delivery assurance and efficiency.

  • Low Bandwidth Usage

MQTT is characterized by its lightweight and highly efficient nature, rendering it well-suited for deployment in resource-constrained environments and networks with limited bandwidth.

How Is MQTT Better Than REST API?

  • Asynchronous Communication:

MQTT supports asynchronous communication through its publish-subscribe model, allowing devices to send and receive messages independently. This is more efficient than synchronous REST requests.

  • Reduced Network Overhead:

The lightweight nature of MQTT messages results in reduced network overhead compared to the more verbose nature of REST payloads. This is advantageous, especially in resource-constrained environments.

  • Persistent Connections:

MQTT allows for persistent connections, reducing the need for frequent connection establishment and teardown. This is beneficial for scenarios where devices need to be continuously connected.

5. Event-Driven Architecture (EDA)


Event-Driven Architecture (EDA) is a protocol that emphasizes on reacting to events rather than following pre-defined workflows. In this pattern, events are published and consumed by different components or microservices within a system. 

This easily promotes loose coupling and scalability. While EDA can be complex to implement and debug, it offers excellent flexibility and resilience for distributed systems.

What Are The Key Features Of EDA?

  • Decoupling of Components

EDA promotes the decoupling of system components, allowing them to communicate through events. This enhances flexibility and maintainability.

  • Scalability

Event-driven systems can scale more easily as components can react to events independently. This scalability is very useful for large and complex systems.

  • Event Processing

EDA allows for the processing of events in real-time, enabling systems to react to changes or triggers as they occur.

How Is EDA Better Than REST API?

  • Loose Coupling:

EDA inherently supports loose coupling between different components, as they communicate through events. This reduces dependencies and allows for more flexible system architecture compared to the tight coupling often seen in REST.

  • Real-time Responsiveness:

Events in EDA can trigger real-time responses, making it suitable for scenarios where immediate reactions to changes are crucial. This contrasts with the request-response nature of REST, which may introduce latency.

  • Scalability and Resilience:

EDA facilitates scalability by allowing components to independently process events. Additionally, the decoupled nature of event-driven systems enhances resilience, as failures in one component don’t necessarily affect others.



FALCOR is a data platform and a JavaScript library developed by Netflix to address challenges in data retrieval for web apps. 

It introduces a path-based approach to data retrieval, treating data as a graph of interconnected paths rather than individual resources accessed through traditional HTTP requests.

What Are The Key Features Of FALCOR?

  • Virtual JSON Graph

FALCOR represents data as a virtual JSON graph, allowing clients to request specific parts of the graph rather than retrieving entire resources.

  • Efficient Batched Requests:

FALCOR enables efficient batched requests, where clients can request multiple pieces of data in a single network call, reducing the number of round-trips.

  • Caching and Optimizations:

FALCOR includes built-in support for caching and optimizations, allowing for efficient data retrieval and reducing redundant requests.

How Is FALCOR Better Than REST API?

  • Efficient Data Fetching:

FALCOR allows clients to fetch only the data they need, reducing over-fetching. The virtual JSON graph model enhances efficiency in data retrieval compared to traditional REST APIs.

  • Reduced Round-Trips:

Batched requests in FALCOR enable clients to request multiple pieces of data in a single call, reducing the number of round-trips needed to fetch information compared to REST.

  • Optimized for Single-Page Applications (SPAs):

FALCOR is well-suited for SPAs where efficient data retrieval and minimal network latency are crucial. Its design aligns with the requirements for building modern web apps.

7. Serverless Functions


Serverless functions, also known as serverless computing or Function as a Service (FaaS), represent a cloud computing model where developers can write, deploy, and run individual functions without managing the underlying servers.

What Are The Key Features Of Serverless Functions?

  • Event-Driven Execution

These are triggered by events, such as HTTP requests, database changes, or scheduled events. This event-driven model allows for efficient resource utilization.

  • Automatic Scaling

Serverless platforms automatically scale functions based on demand, ensuring that resources are allocated dynamically to handle varying workloads.

  • Pay-per-Use Pricing

Serverless computing follows a pay-per-use pricing model, where users are billed based on the actual computational resources consumed during the execution of functions.

How Is Serverless Functions Better Than REST API?

  1. Auto-Scaling:

Serverless functions automatically scale based on demand, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently. This contrasts with traditional REST APIs, where scaling may require manual intervention.

2. Cost Efficiency:

With serverless, users only pay for the actual execution time of functions, leading to cost savings compared to maintaining and scaling dedicated servers for REST APIs.

3. Simplified Deployment and Management:

Serverless platforms abstract away infrastructure management, simplifying the deployment and operational aspects of applications. This reduces the operational burden compared to managing and scaling REST APIs on dedicated servers.

That’s a wrap!

Throughout the article, we explored the best alternatives to REST API because things are changing in how we build apps and websites. New protocols like event-driven APIs, GraphQL, and gRPC, are becoming popular. These alternatives help us handle more complex situations, work faster, and adapt to the different needs of our app users.

Want to know more about REST APIs or other protocols for building apps? Comment your queries below and our team of experts will get back with the best solutions.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is replacing the REST API?

GraphQL, which is a runtime and query language for APIs, seems to be a better alternative than the REST as it lets clients request/receive the data they need using a single request, instead of multiple requests as in REST. Additionally, for certain use cases, gRPC API comes as a better choice than REST, because of faster application performance.

Is GraphQL an alternative to REST?

To be precise, GraphQL is a framework for handling only specific queries. However, it does not address all API-related issues and due to which, it is definitely not considered an alternative for REST.

What is the opposite of REST API?

The Streaming APIs are completely different from REST APIs. As, they are a stream of continuous requests that are open, allowing data to be pushed in. Additionally, when these APIs are updated, users get notified instantly. Further, it stand as an ideal option for getting real-time data from the web, giving users accurate and current information.

What are the advantages of GraphQL over REST?

The prime benefit of GraphQL over REST is that it fetches only the required data in a single request. While REST either over-fetches or under-fetches data, creating the need for another request. Other advantages include:
1. Detailed Analytics
2. Rapid Iterations
3. Schema & Type Pattern

Is RESTful API outdated?

No, REST APIs are still operational and stay supported by people who do not like to switch, and hence, no alterations have been made to them. However, it is suggested you update to Version 2 of REST, as the earlier version is planned to be removed by the end of 2024.

What is the difference between Web API and REST API?

Web API relies on multiple communication protocols like XML, JSON, and SOAP to send and receive data, and so, are more convenient. On the other hand, REST API uses only the HTTP protocol and is compatible with JSON format alone, thus making them less flexible.

What is the difference between REST and MQTT?

REST is an architectural style that operates on the request-response model, making it suitable for short sessions. On the other hand, MQTT is a messaging protocol that is built majorly to handle high-latency and low-bandwidth communications. Additionally, while REST uses JSON/XML formats, MQTT supports various formats.


Vigneshwar is a seasoned digital marketer and blogger, extremely passionate about driving search engine visibility for websites. He thoroughly enjoys exploring emerging technologies and is currently honing his expertise in Chat APIs and their associated tech stacks.

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