Six Rules You Should Follow When Designing an API

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Nowadays, every software developer uses APIs to make things easier for themselves. Some developers even make their own APIs to help their fellow workers build their apps in less time and with less manpower. If you ever wanted to create an API, you probably don’t even know where to start. Here we have a few important API design rules that you need to stick to if you want everything to go smoothly.

6 API Design Rules to Follow


Pay Attention to Documentation

If you don’t have a well-documented API, you can’t really hope that a lot of people will want to use implement it in their app design. That’s why you need to make sure that your team members start working on documentation from the beginning of the design process. If needed, acquire some useful API software that will ease your documentation process and cut down on the number of hours you put in.

Make Your API Modular

You need to make an effort to divide larger problems into smaller ones and work on solving each and every one of them separately. A modular API is much easier to learn, use, and will allow you to easily make tweaks to it along the way. By designing a modular API, you’ll be able to work on each module at any time you want and separate the stable pieces from legacy ones.

Only Use Natural Semantics

You surely want to make a unique API, however, you shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. You should only use proven concepts the end-users will already know as a basis of your system. And if you have any problems explaining certain concepts, be aware that you’re doing something wrong. You’re either solving problems that don’t need to be addressed right away you’re structuring your API wrong.

Make Your API Extensible

Remember – you’re making your API for living people and not machines – and people like adjusting a piece of software to suit their own needs for that reason, you should make your API fully-extensible and welcome contributors from all over the web. But this is not the only benefit – extensibility also allows you to delay implementing certain features and enables you to add them later in the design process.

Try to Make it Fully-Testable

Every method and class needs to be testable by antagonistic code. That’s why you need to write your tests along with the code. Furthermore, you should use these tests as documentation of the contracts your API provides to the outside world. Make sure to run these tests every time you make a change to the code, no matter how insignificant the change might seem. External contracts are what matters, so you shouldn’t worry about covering the code.

Keep Your API Portable

Lastly, you shouldn’t allow any system concepts to leak into your API. You need to abstract them cleanly and try to design an API that will work on basically on any operating system – or at least all of the popular ones. Simply put, your API needs to hide the implementation. But when you’re doing this, remember the third rule on our list and try to use nothing but natural abstractions.

Final Thoughts: Make Things as Simple as Possible

The best advice we can give to you is to try make things as simple as you can when you’re designing the API. For instance, when creating documentation, when you write down an example, think whether you could make it simpler and easier to understand.

Think if your code looks too complicated. You don’t want to force your users to specify options they don’t really care about. While you don’t need to obsess about simplicity, always take a few moments to re-examine your API and see if you can simplify anything further.

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