What is FTP?
FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a popular solution for transferring files from one device to another. Its simplicity belies its popularity, with the vast majority of actions involving either sending (uploading) or receiving (downloading) files. Files are typically transferred between a FTP client such as FileZilla and an FTP server, although in many cases programmatic solutions involve transferring files from one server to another.
For all of its advantages, FTP suffers from a significant security issue in that communications are not encrypted. To alleviate this issue, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) extended SSH to create the Secure File Transfer Protocol, or SFTP. From a user's perspective SFTP behaves identically to FTP, however all SFTP communications are additionally encrypted. For reasons of convenience the remainder of this page will refer solely to FTP, with all information applying equally to SFTP unless otherwise stated.
What is an FTP REST API?
An FTP REST API removes the need for an FTP client or specialized file transfer library by providing developers with a series of endpoints used to upload and download files. With communication occurring over SSL, and all requests accompanied by a specially designated API key, developers can be assured files are being securely transferred away from the prying eyes of malicious third parties.
Additional endpoints might be created for listing folder contents, deleting files, and learning more about file properties. Using DreamFactory's a FTP connector, all of this is easily accomplished using a point-and-click interface. Just supply your FTP credentials and the target server, and DreamFactory will generate a full-featured REST API which can immediately be integrated into your applications and workflows. Further, additional DreamFactory features can be layered atop the API, including role-based access controls, request volume limiting, and request logging.
FTP is so popular that entire companies and products have been built around creating even friendlier file sharing solutions. One such company is Dropbox. Another very popular service is Amazon S3. Regarding the latter, DreamFactory offers a native connector which can instantly generate a REST API for an S3 bucket (learn more).