Successful API creation starts with defining the audience. It’s important to meet initial expectations with future-proofing in mind and a focus on concise API documentation. This guide will help you create successful APIs.
Successful API creation: API design
API design is the collection of plans and architectural decisions you make when building an API. Your basic API design influences how well developers can consume it and even how they use it. Just like a website or product design, API design informs the user experience.
Good API design meets initial expectations and continues to behave consistently and predictably. Our API design guide helps support this theme throughout your API design process.
Importance of Design-First APIs
- Forces designers to think actively about an interface that is the best fit for their consumers and the provider’s goals when offering an API;
- Ensures that the interface and the backend it exposes do not contaminate each other. This is especially important when existing or legacy backends are being newly offered as REST APIs;
- Offers an outcome in the form of a tangible artifact — a draft API specification document — that can be easily shared with stakeholders to share, communicate and agree upon the proposed design;
- Catapults the production of the API specification forward in the API lifecycle. Your community and stakeholders gain visibility of specific API changes much sooner than if the production of an API specification is coupled with the development of the code.
Future-proofing your API
With such an abundance of formats, choosing one that meets your business needs and is future proof can be overwhelming. The paradox of choice has leveled many a developer. Luckily, the industry at large has adopted some standards that help make this decision simpler.
REST is one of the most popular architectures with JSON and YAML as the preferred formats. Many organizations are adopting to GraphQL, but REST’s history and adoption make it a safer choice for future-proofing of your APIs.
API lifecycle management
Every API has a lifecycle. At each stage, APIs can behave differently.
There are several stages in the API lifecycle:
- Created state
- Prototype state
- Published state
- Blocked state
- Deprecated state
- Retired state
For instance, if a specific API is at a deprecated state, API consumers will have an option to consume the existing deprecated state API until they upgrade to the latest published state of the API. Defining the lifecycle of the API is one of the crucial steps in creating a successful API.
It is impossible to create a single version of an API with constant changes in consumer behavior. It’s not best practice to modify a published API that already has active consumers. The best practice is to create a new version of the same API that can adopt the new business needs. Handling the API versioning use-case with ease is key to any API management solution.
Security is the main concern for any enterprise today. All the APIs have to be secured with the right level of security controls in place. API management solutions with out-of-the-box security options to choose from a specific API is a great way to secure your APIs.
Promote and socialize APIs
Promoting and socializing an API is one of the key elements of successful APIs. Most of the API management solutions on the market offer an easy way to increase the adoption and improve the engagement from developer communities and other segments of API consumers. Providing ease of social integration is key to any API management solution.
API monitoring helps in identifying the crucial performance insights from which developers and operations teams can improve the customer experience. Having an effective API monitoring in place is key to any successful API.
Finally, great documentation is one of the more overlooked aspects of a successful API but cannot be ignored. It is how your API consumer interacts with your API and greatly influences their perception.
How to pick the best API creation tool (for your needs).