I am building a file manager web UI (front end ReactJS, back end Flask). RESTful API seems to be very suitable in this situation at first sight, but I get into trouble.

I need API contain:

  • List Operation: get all path info under a folder(path), like ls command
  • Delete Operation: delete path
  • Rename Operation: rename path
  • Change permission Operation: change path permission
  • Move Operation: move path to another path
  • Copy Operation: copy path to another path

"Rename" and "change permission" can be included in a modify Operation.


  • getPathInfo Operation: get path info (permission, is a folder or not, something else), because the list Operation gets the info and sets to each child, so no need to query a single path.

At first, I thought a path is easy to change into a restful API, but there are some problems now.

I use node to point path:

api = Blueprint('api', __name__, url_prefix='/api')
api_wrap = Api(api)

class NodeList(Resource):
    def get(self, path='.'):
        return filemgr.list(path)

class Node(Resource):
    def get(self, path):
        return ''

    def delete(self, path):
        if not path:
            return 403
        return filemgr.delete(path)

    def post(self, path):
        deserialized = NodeSerializer().deserialize(json.loads(request.data))
        return filemgr.create(path, deserialized)

    def put(self, path):
        deserialized = NodeSerializer().deserialize(json.loads(request.data))
        return filemgr.modify(path, deserialized)

The resource is node, but where do I place move and copy? What is the correct way to write move and copy Operation? Create another resource? It sounds weird, and common JSON API is clearer:

@api.route('/move', methods=['POST'])
def move():
    data = json.loads(request.data)
    ret = filemgr.move(data['src'], data['dst'])
    return jsonify(ret)

Actually, I am confusing as to whether or not I can use RESTful in my project.

Set a rename Operation is clearer than RESTful put too:

@api.route('/rename', methods=['POST'])
def rename():
    data = json.loads(request.data)
    ret = filemgr.rename(data['path'], data['name'])
    return jsonify(ret)

I wonder what is the correct way to design RESTful API for the file manager:

  1. Completely RESTful; how can it be named?
  2. Half RESTful, mixin common JSON API; is it good to mix RESTful API with others?
  3. Don't use RESTful here, and why?

1 Answer 1


Don't get too caught up with the way things are usually done, an API can be restful without having to have resource identifier specified in the URL. In your case I would say its perfectly acceptable to place the path(s) in the POST body.

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