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The Difference Between POST and PUT—Get it Right!

I’ve been getting pretty annoyed lately by a popular misconception by web developers that a POST is used to create a resource, and a PUT is used to update/change one.

If you take a look at page 55 of RFC 2616 (“Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP/1.1”), Section 9.6 (“PUT”), you’ll see what PUT is actually for:

The PUT method requests that the enclosed entity be stored under the supplied Request-URI.

There’s also a handy paragraph to explain the difference between POST and PUT:

The fundamental difference between the POST and PUT requests is reflected in the different meaning of the Request-URI. The URI in a POST request identifies the resource that will handle the enclosed entity. That resource might be a data-accepting process, a gateway to some other protocol, or a separate entity that accepts annotations. In contrast, the URI in a PUT request identifies the entity enclosed with the request – the user agent knows what URI is intended and the server MUST NOT attempt to apply the request to some other resource.

It doesn’t mention anything about the difference between updating/creating, because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the difference between this:

obj.set_attribute(value) # A POST request.  

And this:

obj.attribute = value # A PUT request.  

So please, stop the spread of this popular misconception. Read your RFCs.