What API Design Principles Should You Follow?

As of late, there have been many changes in API design trends. Staying up to date with these trends can help you develop better APIs, that are more widely accepted by the target audience. Plus, the latest technologies help you develop APIs that are easier to implement by developers. Additionally by conforming by the API design principles set by the URI and HTTP specifications that is in itself adhering to best practices known to deliver efficient APIs.

Make it Simple!

One of the biggest complaints from developers is that some APIs are pretty hard to understand and use. Generally, developers will steer away from using APIs which are obscure or hard to understand, after all, developers are humans too. So, as an API developer, one of the things you need to start off with is making sure that the APIs you develop is simple.

The best way to make things simple is to focus on the API’s core functionality. Instead of having one API that does a dozen things with many features. You are better off having one that is great at delivering a single feature. Simplicity will drive adaptation as it has been seen across the development industry.

Have Consistency Across all Parameters

All calling parameters in your API should be consistent. For instance, if the first argument of a parameter calls a file name, and the second calls up a database seek, this should be the same for all functions. If you randomly arrange these arguments, then that means users have to memorize all functions independently which makes it difficult. It goes without saying that most developers would instead not use an API than try to memorize all its independent functions. If broad adoption of your API is a goal, then consistency is important.

Document all Features and Functions Accurately

If you want developers to use the API you’ve developed, it has to be well documented. The documentation needs to have more than just a list of all the features and functions. Ideally, it should include example calls. The more examples you have using different programming instances and languages the easier it becomes for developers to adopt the API.

The mistake that makes many APIs pointless is assuming that developers will use it because it does something unique. Developers will never use something they don’t understand because after all, their clients want reliability and an API that’s not well document isn’t seen as being reliable.

Use Versioning Effectively

One of the core API design principles overlooked unfortunately by developers is versioning. Versioning needs to be effective so that those using your API in their applications can adapt accordingly. In addition to adding a version number to each new release, a changelog, along with a list of all new features should be introduced. Another significant thing to keep in mind is that you need to allow the previous version to remain in circulation because pulling the plug abruptly because the latest version is out will render all the work developers have done on their apps useless. You never want to force developers to use one version over the other. That said if your latest version is better in terms of functions, speed and overall efficiency it will automatically be adopted by app developers in newer iterations of their apps.


APIs are a great way to spread the word about your company and make money. However, it needs to be done right following the design principles mentioned above. That said using common sense in the way of communication with prospective developers or adopters of your API too can go a long way.


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