Many developers are interested in developing an application programming interface (API) for their startup. However, they don't know where to start and what mistakes to avoid. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common errors made by API developers and how you can prevent them.
Table of Contents
- Using Too Much Abstraction
- Too Many Endpoints
- Neglecting the Documentation
- Not Following the Proper HTTP Methods
- Not Using a Versioning System
- Worrying Too Much about Competitors
- Using No Error Handling at All
- Data Oversharing
- Lack of Scalability
- Inconsistent Code
Using Too Much Abstraction
One of the biggest mistakes made by API developers is using too much abstraction in their apps. While it's true that excessive abstractions in code are bad for software maintainability, this doesn't mean you should avoid them altogether.
If your goal is to build an application programming interface (API) for other programmers, they will appreciate simple interfaces that are easy to understand and consume. However, if the purpose of your project is different—e.g., building a library or framework which can be consumed internally within your company—then more complex APIs are perfectly fine as long as internal consumers know what they're doing.
Too Many Endpoints
Another common mistake during API design is focusing on over-abstraction instead of reusability. A rest API containing dozens of endpoints dedicated to different methods and purposes will confuse users. Instead, focus on developing highly flexible APIs with a few simple endpoints that can be used for many things. This will also help you reduce the number of API calls or requests sent to your API's endpoint, which will increase performance.
Neglecting the Documentation
Having good documentation will also help you stay organized, which will reduce the risk of making mistakes.
Not Following the Proper HTTP Methods
Another mistake API developers often make is not following the proper methods when designing endpoints. While it's true that you're free to use any method, such as GET and POST, for specific purposes within your application programming interface (API), this doesn't mean it will be a good idea in all cases and could cause errors in your web application or web server.
If you want to make sure each endpoint has its clear purpose and intent, then stick with the ones already defined by the RESTful architecture:
- GET—used for retrieving data
- HEAD—can be used instead of GET but should return only metadata about resources without actual content
- POST—perform actions on resources or collections of resources
- PUT / PATCH / MERGE—update existing resources if their unique identifiers are provided in the request body
- DELETE—delete resources.
Not Using a Versioning System
If you want your development team and application programming interface (API) to succeed, then make sure it can quickly evolve as needs change or new features are introduced. To do this successfully, consider implementing a versioning system from the start, which will allow you to modify endpoints without breaking their existing clients. By adding each update's unique identifier in the request header, you'll ensure that only compatible updates are accepted. At the same time, older ones remain ignored by consumers of your API until they upgrade too. This is an often-made mistake by API developers who don't have enough experience building APIs and backend systems for other people to use.
Worrying Too Much About Competitors
While keeping up with competitors' updates can be time-consuming, worrying too much about what others are doing might cause more problems than benefits in the long run. Focusing too much on your competitors may lead to making mistakes that can hurt the overall integrity of your application programming interface (API) and how it performs for users, which is why you should limit this type of thinking.
Instead, make sure to stay focused only on what matters: listening to feedback from consumers and improving their overall experience with your APIs.
Using No Error Handling at All
Most web APIs fail to provide proper error handling. This is a big mistake and can cause significant problems for any developer who relies on your company's application programming interface (API).
For example, suppose you rely on third-party API providers and they return an error that your application programming interface (API) can't handle or understand. In that case, this will result in failures at every step. Check the response object for errors containing information about what went wrong and display them to end-users when necessary instead of putting all logic inside your codebase, where nobody will know about potential problems unless they dig deep into your source code.
Another common mistake API developers often make is oversharing all data with end-users. While this might seem like a good idea at first, it can cause significant problems in the future when your application programming interface (API) gains more popularity and you're forced to provide access for many different clients from various industries.
In such cases, make sure each client has its own unique set of permissions instead of sharing all resources with everyone since this will only increase processing time and unneeded load on backend systems, leading to latency issues while increasing costs.
Lack of Scalability
Developers need to know that the APIs they use will be sustainable in all scenarios, from small-scale projects to large-scale ones. This means emphasizing ease of access and utilization before anything else. If a developer feels like your company's application programming interface (API) is challenging to work with, then don't expect them to stick around for too long.
Instead, focus on creating a scalable infrastructure from the start so that your application programming interface (API) can handle all types of requests and provide access to resources without any downtime.
What might work for one API endpoint won't necessarily translate well to another. That's why every developer who works with your company's application programming interface (API) must find the same information in a similar format. This way, consumers can easily reuse endpoints and save time instead of constantly looking up documentation or other resources. A consistent design and style across your entire application programming interface (API) will make things easier for every user.
In conclusion, it's essential to keep these common mistakes in mind and take action before it's too late. APIs are the future for many companies, so taking your application programming interface (API) development seriously can help you succeed more than ever before while providing an excellent experience for all users involved. If your business wants to develop good APIs, consider using Integrate.io's platform to help with the software development process. Click here to start your seven-day trial with Integrate.io.