Six best practices in API design to know and use

Best Practices In API Design

If your API isn’t scalable and convenient to use, it means you’re missing out on a few tricks. Employing the latest and best AP practices is vital because it avoids API syntax messes. Of course, a smooth API design isn’t easy and requires a critical trial and error procedure.

However, with technological advancements and extensive research comes beneficial discoveries. Today, several best practices in API design can help you upgrade developer experience, adaptability, and documentation. So, below we offer a guide, including six of the most rewarding tips for designing Rest APIs.

What Are REST APIs?

REST API is an app-programming interface- an architectural style invented to assist web service development. The REST stands for Representational State Transfer. So, in simpler terms, rest API acts as an agent that helps two computers communicate over HTTP.

While REST API is not dependent on protocols, most API executions include HTTP as the primary protocol.

Properties Of Well-Designed API

The first step into incorporating the most rewarding API design practices is understanding what it means to have a well-structured API. A well-designed API needs to have two essential qualities, including:

The API needs to be complete yet precise. The longer the API is, the more complex it can get. That’s why you need to follow the best API design practices to build and structure your API’s conciseness. In addition, the API must be easy-to-use. The easier the interface is, the less time it will take for developers to memorize the operations and work with them.

Six Best Practices in API Design

  1. Compatibility With JSON
    It doesn’t matter if you ask around, scroll through the internet, or go for professional consultancy. The first step you’ll see everywhere is this: utmost compatibility of your API with JSON.

    JSON is a standardized medium for transferring data and is one of the most widely-used and accepted formats. Every well-structured API must accept JSON requests and respond accordingly. Several server-side technologies even offer libraries to decode JSON without requiring much of your time and effort. So, if your REST API doesn’t work with the platform, you’re missing out on a lot of potentials.

    The increasing demand and use of JSON are because other formats are more intricate to decode. Moreover, JavaScript also has built-in procedures for encoding and decoding JSON. So, you don’t need to worry about effective application either.

    A pro-tip: keep your content type as “application/json” to ensure that clients interpret JSON data without any error.
  2. Prompt Handling Of Errors
    REST API needs to have a design that reduces the confusion of API users when they come across errors. That means, as a developer, you need to ensure that the API design smoothly manages every error and returns the fundamental error codes instead of bringing down your entire system.

    When API delivers the standard error codes, users can better understand the actual problem and mitigate it right away. Some of the usual HTTP error code ranges include:

    300-399: Redirection Messages (for instance, 304 means “Not Modified” and 307 means “Temporary Redirect”)

    500-599: Server Error Responses (for example, 505 represents “HTTP Version Not Supported” and 511 means “Network Authentication Required”)
  3. Using Nouns in Endpoints
    If you’re using verbs in the endpoints, it’s high time to switch to nouns. HTTP procedures, including Delete, Get, Put, and Patch, are already verbs that deliver the basic functions. So, using verbs in your endpoints isn’t helpful and makes the procedure complex when it’s not providing any new data.

    Here’s an example to explain the practice better. If your website name is “Explore The World,” then your endpoint should be:

    https://exploretheworld.com/message

    Instead of

    https://exploretheworld.com/createmessage or
    https://exploretheworld.com/getmessage.
  4. Enable Filtering, Sorting, And Pagination For Data Recovery
    It’s not shocking that the API database can get quite extensive. With several resources on a single URL, retrieving data might become tedious. And that’s a feature every API developer needs to avoid because it makes using the REST API a grueling task.

    However, you can speed up the API’s performance by employing filtering, sorting, and pagination features. You can recover, arrange, and sort the resources into required pages without putting high pressure on the server to perform multiple actions instantly.
  5. Protect The API From Misuse
    Securing your API is one of the best practices in API design to follow. As digitization increases, the threat of cyberattacks raises as well. And at such critical times, hackers might attack and misuse your APIs if you don’t have sound and reliable protective measures around the API.

    So, you must incorporate several policies for the safety of your API database. You can employ an HTTP Strict Transport Security strategy or even use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to prevent hijacking, protocol downgrade attacks, and middle-man attacks.

    Such tools restrict access to the API’s resources and secure the communication between client and server. In addition, downloading an SSL certification on the server is a straightforward task, and the cost for uploading it is almost insignificant- if not entirely free.
  6. Excellent Documentation
    A REST API without well-compiled documentation isn’t complete. So, managing and improving the documentation is a crucial API design essential. You must make sure that your API’s documentation is precise and comprehensive for enabling your API clients to understand and use the product quicker.

    Your API’s comprehensive documentation must include all required endpoints, execution in numerous programming languages, and status codes and messages of all the errors. You can use applications like Swagger to develop and improve the API documentation effectively.

Foreword

We hope you found these six best practices in API design beneficial. A complicated API that doesn’t simplify work for the users indicates inefficiency.

Do you want to build remarkably operational apps that are well protected and offer your users the prompt convenience they’re looking for? Using the top trending API practices solves all your API design plans.

If you’re searching for expert API professionals to format well-structured APIs for you, you can reach out to Cloud Computing Technologies right away. We await your message to serve you better!

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