Till date experimenting with a Salesforce API has always been most efficient using the Workbench’s REST Explorer. Workbench is a powerful tool of many trades, and a very well maintained open source project at the same time. And navigating REST resources is a key feature. Almost celebrating its 10th anniversary after its conception in 2008 by Ryan Brainard (and today Ryan is a member of Heroku’s technical staff, he made it possible to deploy your own private Workbench app on the Heroku platform). Enough on Workbench.
Because there’s a new kid on the block – the Force.com REST API Explorer or ‘Force.com REST API sObject Resources’. Today in the form of a Developer Review. In its current form, it’s essentially adding documentation to sObject API resources. And at the same time providing an option to try ‘m out.
In its current form, the added resource documentation is probable the big differentiator. But actually invoking and testing a REST service is – well – as cumbersome as it it using Workbench, Postman or similar. You have to still manually craft your body, because the explorer only provides boilerplate JSON.
Of course you could first fetch a record by its ID (Find <sObject> by ID) and next copy & paste that into an update or insert body, modify some data and invoke it. And since the returned REST URLs are not navigable (they aren’t hyperlinked) as you’re used to with Workbench or Postman, that’s not helping much either. So at this point, I guess it’s primarily useful as documentation tool around Salesforce objects. That said, it’s a developer preview and hopefully has a great future and roadmap. For example, wouldn’t it be great to more easily be able to mock-up request bodies with sample data available in the org without having to go through copy & paste exercises?
Other than that, the API version today is fixed to 39 (which is Spring ’17) where the current release is Winter ’18 (41). So new objects, or new fields or relationships on existing objects won’t be up to par with the current release. Performance of navigating the REST API Explorer isn’t good at this moment, probable because it’s still a developer preview. Looking a bit deeper, it appears that the page uses the Turbo-Links library, but effectively disables caching. That makes the page to reload all libraries (JQuery, SFLDS, …) when switching between resources all the time.