API Development Best Practices

Given the importance and value that APIs represent for numerous businesses, it’s important to consider API development best practices when designing and building APIs. The APIs that have the most value and use for the enterprise are more like products than code. They are designed to be consumed by specific audiences (e.g., mobile developers), they are well-documented, and they are versioned so users can have certain expectations of the API maintenance and lifecycle. API development best practices enable the full API lifecycle from design, build, test, through to deployment. APIs developed with software development lifecycle methodologies in mind connect to any application or source of data and possess a powerful set of capabilities to process and compose the data. These APIs are secured by design through automatic API registration and policy management, and plug into a fully-featured platform for analytics, portals and developer communities. Most importantly, APIs developed with these best practices are easy to build, productize, deploy and change. Change is a constant; therefore, the API should be a core strategic element in fast deployments, rapid changes, innovativeness, and experimentation.

 

Principles for API Development:

A number of API development best practices have been created in order to facilitate the development of the most valuable and consumable APIs. It is a good idea to adopt some, if not all of those best practices, in order to create the best chance of API success in your organization:

  • Create Expectations: When working with developers, it is critical to inform them of what is expected, when it should be delivered, and what pain points are to be solved by the API functionality.
  • Service Messaging: With the goal of creating new products and services, or transforming existing products and services, it is paramount to make sure those services and the APIs that provide access to them align with business goals and lead to services that deliver value.
  • Case Studies: It’s key to back up assumptions with viable case studies that illustrate the improvements that API adoption brings to the table.
  • Documentation and Support: Make sure the proper tools are in place for the dev team to document their progress, as well as address change management, along with exposing the capabilities of an API. Ensure that support for the both the development and implementation team is readily available.
  • SDKs and Libraries: Provide the necessary resources to the development team to speed services development and implementation by offering resources that contain reusable code and processes.

For more information about API development best practices, take a look at Undisturbed REST: A Guide to Designing the Perfect API. In addition, here are more resources about the comprehensive API design tools Anypoint Platform offers to comply with API development best practices.