Headless REST APIs

Liferay DXP’s headless REST APIs follow the OpenAPI specification and let your apps consume RESTful web services. What’s more, you can consume these APIs without being tied to Liferay DXP’s UI (hence the term headless). This gives you a great deal of freedom when designing and developing your apps.

The articles in this section show you how to navigate and consume Liferay DXP’s headless REST APIs. But first, you’ll learn the design approach for these APIs.


OpenAPI (originally called Swagger) is a Linux Foundation project specification that defines machine-readable files that describe REST APIs and how to consume them.

OpenAPI has become a widely adopted standard for defining REST APIs and is supported by major players in the API ecosystem such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. As a spec, it is language-agnostic, and many libraries implement it or provide code generation to help validate, consume, or produce APIs.

Liferay DXP leverages existing knowledge of OpenAPI to define, create and consume REST APIs.

API Vocabulary

When defining an API, the developer must decide how to expose the representation of its resources. This determines its ease of use and how it can evolve. Traditionally, there are two approaches:

Contract Last: The code is written first and features are exposed as web or REST services. This approach is typically easier for developers, as they must only implement and expose the business logic. Service Builder is an example of this.

Contract First: The structure for client-server messages is written before the code that implements the services. Such messages are defined independent of the code. This avoids tight coupling and is less likely to break clients as APIs evolve.

Liferay DXP’s headless web APIs use a mixture of both approaches. An OpenAPI profile uses a contract first approach by defining the paths and schemas before writing any code. It then generates an API automatically based on that profile, using the contract-last characteristic of code generation (like Service Builder). This allows fast development for developers.

This mixed approach delivers the best of both worlds, allowing a step of conscious API design and then simplifying the developer experience by exposing only the business logic to implement.

When writing the OpenAPI profile, the main focus should be on defining how client-server messages represent the APIs’ resources. In other words, the APIs’ schemas are defined first and the attributes, resources, and operations are named to clearly define what they represent and how they should be used.

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