The habits of highly effective APIs

March 23 2016

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APIs are increasingly important to the way the modern business works, and as such, the usage of APIs is exploding. Today, according to Programmable Web, there are nearly 15,000 APIs in existence. With so many APIs, how can a developer be sure that hers will be both useful and used?

Highly effective APIs have a number of characteristics that make them highly usable, long-lived, and important to the business. It’s important to make sure that current APIs in use have these characteristics, but developers should also ensure that any new API being built have them as well. Joe McKendrick says in ZDNet, quoting our book First, Break IT, that “APIs need the same care and planning as any piece of software that is produced. That is, they need to be created with a business need in mind, be secure, and well governed…APIs are a reflection of the business, and will also represent a key part of the workflow.”

 

The characteristics of highly effective APIs are:

  • Well-designed
  • Well-implemented
  • Consistent
  • Discoverable
  • Complementary to the existing architecture

APIs can provide a wide variety of business benefits. They can enable a company to become more efficient in delivering new products and services. They provide a simpler way to integrate compared to the custom integration and complicated metaware of the past. They enable businesses to become more agile and flexible in their interactions with customers, partners, and suppliers. But they need to be designed well and maintained consistently to provide these benefits.

For more on API design and management, take a look at First, Break IT, edited by MuleSoft founder Ross Mason.

 


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