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[[rest_flowcharts]]
== REST flowcharts

This chapter will explain the REST handler state machine through
a number of different diagrams.

There are four main paths that requests may follow. One for the
method OPTIONS; one for the methods GET and HEAD; one for the
methods PUT, POST and PATCH; and one for the method DELETE.

All paths start with the "Start" diagram, and all paths excluding
the OPTIONS path go through the "Content negotiation" diagram
and optionally the "Conditional requests" diagram if the resource
exists.

The red squares refer to another diagram. The light green squares
indicate a response. Other squares may be either a callback or a
question answered by Cowboy itself. Green arrows tend to indicate
the default behavior if the callback is undefined. The star next
to values indicate that the value is descriptive rather than exact.

=== Start

All requests start from here.

image::rest_start.png[REST starting flowchart]

A series of callbacks are called in succession to perform
a general checkup of the service, the request line and
request headers.

The request body, if any, is not expected to have been
received for any of these steps. It is only processed
at the end of the "PUT, POST and PATCH methods" diagram,
when all conditions have been met.

The `known_methods` and `allowed_methods` callbacks
return a list of methods. Cowboy then checks if the request
method is in the list, and stops otherwise.

The `is_authorized` callback may be used to check that
access to the resource is authorized. Authentication
may also be performed as needed. When authorization is
denied, the return value from the callback must include
a challenge applicable to the requested resource, which
will be sent back to the client in the www-authenticate
header.

This diagram is immediately followed by either the
"OPTIONS method" diagram when the request method is
OPTIONS, or the "Content negotiation" diagram otherwise.

=== OPTIONS method

This diagram only applies to OPTIONS requests.

image::rest_options.png[REST OPTIONS method flowchart]

The `options` callback may be used to add information
about the resource, such as media types or languages
provided; allowed methods; any extra information. A
response body may also be set, although clients should
not be expected to read it.

If the `options` callback is not defined, Cowboy will
send a response containing the list of allowed methods
by default.

=== Content negotiation

This diagram applies to all request methods other than
OPTIONS. It is executed right after the "Start" diagram
is completed.

image::rest_conneg.png[REST content negotiation flowchart]

The purpose of these steps is to determine an appropriate
representation to be sent back to the client.

The request may contain any of the accept header; the
accept-language header; or the accept-charset header.
When present, Cowboy will parse the headers and then
call the corresponding callback to obtain the list
of provided content-type, language or charset for this
resource. It then automatically select the best match
based on the request.

If a callback is not defined, Cowboy will select the
content-type, language or charset that the client
prefers.

The `content_types_provided` also returns the name of
a callback for every content-type it accepts. This
callback will only be called at the end of the
"GET and HEAD methods" diagram, when all conditions
have been met.

The selected content-type, language and charset are
saved as meta values in the Req object. You *should*
use the appropriate representation if you set a
response body manually (alongside an error code,
for example).

This diagram is immediately followed by
the "GET and HEAD methods" diagram,
the "PUT, POST and PATCH methods" diagram,
or the "DELETE method" diagram, depending on the
method.

=== GET and HEAD methods

This diagram only applies to GET and HEAD requests.

For a description of the `cond` step, please see
the "Conditional requests" diagram.

image::rest_get_head.png[REST GET/HEAD methods flowchart]

When the resource exists, and the conditional steps
succeed, the resource can be retrieved.

Cowboy prepares the response by first retrieving
metadata about the representation, then by calling
the `ProvideResource` callback. This is the callback
you defined for each content-types you returned from
`content_types_provided`. This callback returns the body
that will be sent back to the client, or a fun if the
body must be streamed.

When the resource does not exist, Cowboy will figure out
whether the resource existed previously, and if so whether
it was moved elsewhere in order to redirect the client to
the new URI.

The `moved_permanently` and `moved_temporarily` callbacks
must return the new location of the resource if it was in
fact moved.

=== PUT, POST and PATCH methods

This diagram only applies to PUT, POST and PATCH requests.

For a description of the `cond` step, please see
the "Conditional requests" diagram.

image::rest_put_post_patch.png[REST PUT/POST/PATCH methods flowchart]

When the resource exists, first the conditional steps
are executed. When that succeeds, and the method is PUT,
Cowboy will call the `is_conflict` callback. This function
can be used to prevent potential race conditions, by locking
the resource for example.

Then all three methods reach the `content_types_accepted`
step that we will describe in a few paragraphs.

When the resource does not exist, and the method is PUT,
Cowboy will check for conflicts and then move on to the
`content_types_accepted` step. For other methods, Cowboy
will figure out whether the resource existed previously,
and if so whether it was moved elsewhere. If the resource
is truly non-existent, the method is POST and the call
for `allow_missing_post` returns `true`, then Cowboy will
move on to the `content_types_accepted` step. Otherwise
the request processing ends there.

The `moved_permanently` and `moved_temporarily` callbacks
must return the new location of the resource if it was in
fact moved.

The `content_types_accepted` returns a list of
content-types it accepts, but also the name of a callback
for each of them. Cowboy will select the appropriate
callback for processing the request body and call it.

This callback may return one of three different return
values.

If an error occurred while processing the request body,
it must return `false` and Cowboy will send an
appropriate error response.

If the method is POST, then you may return `true` with
an URI of where the resource has been created. This is
especially useful for writing handlers for collections.

Otherwise, return `true` to indicate success. Cowboy
will select the appropriate response to be sent depending
on whether a resource has been created, rather than
modified, and on the availability of a location header
or a body in the response.

=== DELETE method

This diagram only applies to DELETE requests.

For a description of the `cond` step, please see
the "Conditional requests" diagram.

image::rest_delete.png[REST DELETE method flowchart]

When the resource exists, and the conditional steps
succeed, the resource can be deleted.

Deleting the resource is a two steps process. First
the callback `delete_resource` is executed. Use this
callback to delete the resource.

Because the resource may be cached, you must also
delete all cached representations of this resource
in the system. This operation may take a while though,
so you may return before it finished.

Cowboy will then call the `delete_completed` callback.
If you know that the resource has been completely
deleted from your system, including from caches, then
you can return `true`. If any doubts persist, return
`false`. Cowboy will assume `true` by default.

To finish, Cowboy checks if you set a response body,
and depending on that, sends the appropriate response.

When the resource does not exist, Cowboy will figure out
whether the resource existed previously, and if so whether
it was moved elsewhere in order to redirect the client to
the new URI.

The `moved_permanently` and `moved_temporarily` callbacks
must return the new location of the resource if it was in
fact moved.

=== Conditional requests

This diagram applies to all request methods other than
OPTIONS. It is executed right after the `resource_exists`
callback, when the resource exists.

image::rest_cond.png[REST conditional requests flowchart]

A request becomes conditional when it includes either of
the if-match header; the if-unmodified-since header; the
if-none-match header; or the if-modified-since header.

If the condition fails, the request ends immediately
without any retrieval or modification of the resource.

The `generate_etag` and `last_modified` are called as
needed. Cowboy will only call them once and then cache
the results for subsequent use.