Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become some of the most important components of software development today. They have greatly influenced almost every area of development, from cloud applications, mobile applications, and many other areas, especially where innovative automation is required. This influence is growing every day as organizations look for more solutions to meet their customer demands.
APIs are designed to dictate the communication and sharing of data between different software applications. They have proved to be quite important to developers. Today, developers are able to build applications within a short time because of APIs. They are also able to reuse code and implement APIs with few customizations to make sure that they (APIs) meet their requirements.
That notwithstanding, some developers have often been very excited about the use of APIs that they forget about some very important things. This is mostly because of the endless possibilities that come with the APIs, making some developers assume or leave important API rules in their designs.
It is, therefore, important for developers to always remember that sending requests and receiving responses correctly is not enough to know whether an API is designed well or not. They should always know that their applications will be used widely, by different people with different expectations. If anyone feels that an application does not serve them as they expect, then that is a failure on the part of the developer.
Common Mistakes When Designing and Building APIs
1. Data Validation
Data validation might be a common practice with software development, but there are developers who fail to pay attention to it. A good API design should incorporate effective data validation to minimize the chances of the API failing in the future.
If, for instance, a developer designs an API, observing all the other regulations for a good and effective API, but forget about data validation, or rather implement poor data validation techniques, they will be creating a gap for hackers and unauthorized access.
This, in return, might end up affecting the operations of the API or even end up exposing sensitive data. Such mistakes will have a great impact on any organization – they might lose business, clients, or even end up closing their operations.
2. Response Codes
Response codes are crucial in making sure that an application works as expected. To be on the safe side, you should make sure that you are always getting successful response codes. However, a smart developer should always pay attention to the error response codes to ensure that their applications are meeting their expectations.
The most common mistake with response codes is having developers focusing on just a number of errors. This creates a problem in that they will only address a few issues forgetting others that might be crucial to the operations of their applications.
To avoid this mistake, developers should make sure that they know about all the status codes so that they can work on any issues that might affect their APIs. When there is a request on the server, a response is made through status codes to tell the developers if there was an issue with the request or not.
This means that developers might not address all issues with the design of their APIs if they pay attention to just a number of error codes.
3. API Documentation
Making sure that everything you work on with regards to your API is documented is one of the most important things every API developer should do. As much as the API developer works on the API and makes sure that it meets all the set requirements, they also need to make sure that the API users and customers know their way around the API.
Documenting APIs ensures that anyone who implements it will find it easy to grasp and understand the API, avoiding issues with users and customers having to look for help from you (the developer). Furthermore, technology and people are among the forces that affect the behavior of an organization. Employees might be replaced and technology changed, and new employees will use such documentation to understand how the API and any new technologies work.
Finally, API developers need to test their own APIs and experience it in the same way as the API users, ensure that their APIs are scalable in case there are changes in the future, and always monitor the APIs to make sure that they meet all their expectations. This way, they will have avoided all the mistakes that developers commit when designing their APIs, and in turn, make sure that their APIs meet their performance expectations.