Choosing Fields & Embedded Resources

Response Message Fields

Every request that may result in a response with a non-trivial body SHOULD implement the fields query parameter. If provided, the value of this parameter must be a comma-separated list of top-level response message fields.

Upon receiving such a request, in the event of a 2xx response, the service SHOULD respond with a message that includes only top-level fields specified in the fields parameter. That includes HAL-specific fields (_links and _embedded).

Example

Retrieve only some details of an Order resource:

HTTP Request

GET /order/1234?fields=_links,orderNumber,status HTTP/1.1
Accept: application/hal+json

HTTP Response

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/hal+json

{
  "_links": {
    "self": { "href": "/orders/1234" },
    "author": { "href": "/users/john" },
    "items": [ ... ]
  },
  "orderNumber": 1234,
  "status": "pending"
}

Embedded Resources

Similarly to the fields query parameter, every request that might result in a response containing related embedded resource representations SHOULD implement the embedded query parameter. If, provided the value of the embedded query parameter MUST be a comma-separated list of relation identifiers.

Upon receiving such a request, in the event of a 2xx response, the service SHOULD respond with a message that "embeds" (see HAL _embedded field) only the related resources specified in the embedded parameter.

Example

Embed only information about the Author of an Order resource. We are not interested in Items that are in this order.

HTTP Request

GET /order/1234?embed=author HTTP/1.1
Accept: application/hal+json

HTTP Response

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/hal+json

{
  "_links": {
    "self": { "href": "/orders/1234" },
    "author": { "href": "/users/john" },
    "items": [ ... ]
  },
  "orderNumber": 1234,
  "itemCount": 42,
  "status": "pending",
  "_embedded": {
    "author": {
      "_links": { "self": "/users/john" },
      "name": "John Appleseed",
      "email": "john@apple.com"
    }
  }
}

Reasonable Defaults

When fields and embedded parameters are not provided or not implemented the server SHOULD return reasonable default field and/or embedded resources. The defaults MUST always contain the _links field, where available.

Resource Variants

The facility of fields and embedded parameters doesn't impose any restriction of creating new resource variants.

It is OK to create a new resource just as a compound resource only to provide selected fields or blend-embed some existing resources together.

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