November 5

Practical API Design Steps

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Now API design-first means that after a stable data model has been drafted the next step is to create either a public or a private API for that web application. It is for all intents and purposes the next phase in the development cycle. However, after the API is published making any changes to it is impossible. The only way for you to get around this is to start with a solid design concept, then work your way from there. There are literally hundreds of forum posts and articles expressing opinions about practical API design but good advise is little if any. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for anyone looking to design their own APIs.

What Do You Need?

As professionals, one of our job descriptions is to do research before writing an article. So, we went through and personally didn’t find any good advice on the topic. Most papers written are from an academic standpoint. A lot of what we came across revolved around using fuzzy logic or another subjective standard. So, none of what we ran into can be implemented in the real world. That’s why we are going to start with listing the best practices for API design. Also, we must mention that our goal isn’t to sell you a particular standard or method. However, what you’ll find below is a list of what we think API design requirements should meet.

  • It needs to make use of existing web standards
  • It has to be developed in a way so that it is user-friendly and easily explorable using a web browser
  • It should be powerful, flexible and compatible with numerous UIs
  • The design should be simple, intuitive and consistent
  • It also needs to be efficient while maintaining the right balance between meeting standards and ease of use

SSL Certificates

We stand firmly behind building applications and APIs that use SSL certificates. Web APIs neede to be secure since they are accessed by thousands of people who are connected to the internet. Most of these networks like those of coffee shops, airports, etc. aren’t always secure, so all information needs to be encrypted. The goal is to make it impossible for hackers and impersonators to eavesdrop on chats/conversations or forge certificates.

SSL Certificates also guarantees encryption of communication. So, you can just use a simple access token and without having to file a request with the API each time.

Solid API Documentation

Any API is only as good as its documentation. The documentation will make it easier for developers to understand the implementation. Developers make sure to always check the documentation before they undertake any sort of API integration. The documents should be easy to reach and signing in shouldn’t be a requirement since Bing and Google should easily index them.

Conclusion

Once an API is published, you are bound not to change any part of it without prior notification. Then the documentation also needs to be updated. That’s why it has to get things right on the first try.


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