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  • Writer's pictureKarol Pietruszka

What are the key distinctions in pagination between static data and API integration?

Updated: May 31


Webchefs Software  for humans pagination article

Pagination, or paging, is a technique used to display data in a manageable way, primarily to avoid the need for scrolling through or loading large volumes of data in a browser. This method enhances performance and reduces data consumption by dividing the data into smaller, manageable portions. This way, a client (a browser or a phone) doesn't have to process a massive dataset—potentially comprising hundreds of thousands of records—at once.


Such an approach conserves data transfer and boosts the application's performance. Each data portion is typically assigned a sequential number, indicating its position within the overall dataset. Common examples include paginating a list of articles on a blog or products in an online shop.

The critical benefit of pagination is its ability to limit the data returned in a single request. This significantly speeds up the application's loading time and enhances the page's readability, making it easier for users to navigate and access content efficiently.


Choosing the optimal pagination method varies depending on the specific requirements of a project. The most widely utilized pagination techniques include:

  • Offset Pagination: This method sends two parameters to the server: the limit (which defines the page size) and the offset (which specifies the number of items to skip before displaying data). It's straightforward and commonly used for its simplicity.

  • Key-based Pagination: This technique requires an additional parameter for sorting the data sent to the server. It facilitates displaying data starting from a specific element, identified by a key, within a sorted list. This method is efficient for frequently updated datasets because it prevents the same item from appearing on multiple pages due to inserts or deletes.

  • Click- or Scroll-based Pagination: In this approach, the data fetched from the server includes information that points to the next or previous set of items, such as messages in an instant messaging application. This method is particularly user-friendly in applications where users navigate through data by clicking a button or scrolling, providing a seamless experience.


Pagination using API


Implementing API pagination is essential for handling large data volumes effectively. The process is simplified into key steps:

  1. Preparation: The client (browser or phone) sets up the pagination request, including the desired page and number of items.

  2. Request Sending: This request, with pagination details, is sent to the server.

  3. Data Retrieval: The server processes the request, fetches the specified data slice from the database, and prepares the response.

  4. Response Sending: This paginated data is then sent back to the client.

  5. Response Processing: The client receives, processes, and displays the data accordingly.

Through API pagination, the client receives an object with pagination details (page number, size, sorting) to organize and display the data efficiently in the browser.


API communication operates under specific conditions, ensuring seamless and efficient data exchange between clients and servers. These conditions include:

  1. Separation of User Interface from Server Operations: The client's user interface is distinct from the server's backend processes, allowing for independent development and maintenance of each component.

  2. Stateless Requests: Each client request must carry all the necessary information for the server to process. The server does not retain the user session state, making each request independent.

  3. Informative Responses: The server's response includes details on whether the requested data should be displayed, how to show it, and for what duration, among other directives. This aspect could be elaborated on in a more detailed discussion.

  4. Independence from Database Schema: The API's data structure should not be tied directly to the database schema, although it may be similar. This approach helps avoid redundancy and supports using various resource types in REST or solutions like GraphQL, inspired by Facebook, for more efficient data retrieval.

  5. Data Transfer Formats: Data is typically transferred in JSON or XML formats, which are widely supported and facilitate easy parsing and integration across different platforms and technologies.



Pagination of static data


The approach to implementing pagination, especially for static data like a country list, varies based on data presentation needs or database requirements. Available options include:

  • Manual Implementation: This method manually creates sub-pages and links them together. It's generally considered labor-intensive and less favored because changes or modifications require manual updates.

  • Utilization of Development Tools or Libraries: Leveraging existing solutions from other development teams or software developers, such as SQLAlchemy, can simplify the pagination process. These tools provide tested and efficient pagination mechanisms.

  • Custom Code Creation: Although creating pagination logic from scratch is labor-intensive, it offers developers complete control. This method allows for creating a customized solution that perfectly fits specific requirements, offering flexibility and precision in the pagination functionality.



Conclusion


The development and deployment of pagination are broadly similar for static and API-driven data, with the main differences being the operational environment and conditions. When using APIs, data must be converted into formats that the client supports, a step that's unnecessary with static data since it's already accessible to the client in a specific format. However, API-based pagination offers a key advantage: it separates the client interface from the server layer. This separation provides greater flexibility and ensures the data's integrity is maintained, preventing any direct client actions from impacting the server-stored data.

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