By Ron Evan, freelance writer.
An API (Applications Programming Interface) is a programming interface that dictates how different software applications interact and share data to enhance their operations. A successful API is not only one that meets its obligations without failure but also one that is easy to implement and use.
A successful API makes the job of developers that implement it easy. They can easily explore all aspects of the API, generate flexible responses, and improve the performance of their applications and the efficiency of both the application users and the developers themselves.
The use of IoT devices has grown exponentially over the past few years. IoT is driving manufacturing production, the e-Commerce industry, the transport industry, and many other industries. IoT devices are used to run our day-to-day activities, and they implement applications that need to communicate with each other for a seamless operation.
This interaction is made possible by the use of APIs. It is this growth that has prompted developers to come up with as many APIs as possible to address the growing demand. However, not all developed APIs have been successful. This can be attributed to many factors, but one of the major contributors to this is poor testing. Developers fail to put themselves in the shoes of the API consumers and view the API from that angle.
That notwithstanding, API development has given birth to testing tools that check restful web services for any underlying reliability, functionality, security, and performance issues. If used well, developers can minimize or even avoid any failures with their APIs.
Developers can also make their APIs successful by doing a number of things, among them;
Supporting Different Output Formats
API owners should try anything possible to encourage other developers to use their APIs. One of the ways to encourage the use of your API is by making it accessible and available. When building an API, one is supposed to make sure that they have offered different output formats for developers to use their libraries when implementing the API. This also helps in reducing any changes to the code that developers need to make.
Handling Partial Response
Google, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, started using partial response with their APIs. This shows how this feature is important when building APIs. An API might come with different assets and fields forcing developers to handle all the latency issues with the API even when they need a number of fields.
However, with partial response handling, developers are able to limit themselves to the fields that they are looking for. This reduces the work they would otherwise have done and helps in attracting more developers into implementing your API.
Smart Caching Architecture
The success of an API is also determined by its performance. Developers want to implement an API that meets their expectations and gives them what they are looking for. An API that has performance issues or one that is slow and sluggish might lead to few or no implementations at all. Caching of results and queries helps in improving the speed of an API, something that every API developer should implement.
Even though API owners might use rate-limiting due to monetization requirements, they need to do it carefully to make sure that they are not chasing away developers from implementing an API. For instance, a developer might be limited to making one hundred calls in a day, yet they have an application that required over one thousand calls in a day. Chances are that that developer might look for another API that addresses their demands.
Even though important, API owners should eliminate rate-limiting, and if necessary, they should come up with ways that not only benefit themselves but also the API developers implementing the API.
There is no reason for one to develop an API that will not be used by anyone, not unless internal APIs for their own use. API owners should make sure that they are doing everything possible that meets all the requirements of the API consumers and provide them with everything that they need for successful implementation. This will, without any doubt, make an API successful.