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The Importance of Planning and Testing in API Development

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The Importance of Planning and Testing in API Development

For most large companies, APIs have become possibly the most important channel for reaching consumers. Just take a look at companies like Twitter, Netflix, and Salesforce… on an average day, all of them serve more requests through API requests than through their front ends.

Nowadays, APIs carry a heavy burden, and you’re probably aware of it. However, considering that, it’s really surprising to find out that so many APIs get rushed through development without the proper and adequate tests being done.

API Quality as a Top Priority

Now, if you’re working on an API – or any other software product for that matter – quality is probably on the top of the list of priorities. The quality is important for both API implementers and consumers.

When it comes to consumers, a bad API usually means a long development cycle. And that’s not all, bad APIs also result in a higher defect rate. Sometimes, the whole team depends on one person that has mastered API calls correctly. Let’s face it: no one wants to work in those conditions.

On the other hand, for implementers, the API quality usually shows in its popularity and the number of support calls and the amount of support API documentation.

Luckily for all API developers out there, there are some approaches out there that result in better API development. These include leveraging useful development practices at leading companies, deploying the right tools, and rigorous testing procedures.

Where do Developers Usually go Wrong?

In the early days of APIs, people needed to use EML, however since that proven too time-consuming, programmers quickly transferred to JSON. This alternative data format became popular very quickly because APIs were originally conceived as simple pieces of software.

Today we have a similar situation with Java Enterprise and Spring in the Java space. While Spring tried to compete on quality, Java Enterprise radically changed their standards in order to stay relevant among programmers and developers.

All of that brings us to the main mistake most developers seem to make – deciding their APIs need some major changes after their release. More often than not, these changes impact the users in a negative way and they end up being unsatisfied with the end product.

While some tweaks here and there are unavoidable, you need to learn from these mistakes and not make some sudden decisions after the API has been deployed even though APIs are usually based on a particular architectural style rather than a certain standard.

Examining the Quality of Your API

In modern app development, the app code usually involves API calls. The app’s code uses an API provided by the platform of the developer’s choosing like frameworks, 3rd-party API libraries, and even external services and systems.

The quality of the API usually determines how easy it’s to implement, how productive can it be, and how often the developer will encounter errors. For developers, the quality of their APIs makes significant differences in their usefulness.

Moreover, the code of the app developers are working on is in a large part shaped by all of the APIs they using. Writing clean code is next to impossible if you’re using low-quality APIs. On the other hand, a top-notch API will naturally lead to good code.

General Principles You Should Follow

API frameworks and libraries dominate the modern landscape and it seems like the situation won’t change any time soon. The matter of the fact is, people simply don’t want to build apps from scratch anymore. It’s far easier and more productive to utilize a reliable framework.

For this reason, API design is so important to the modern IT world. Virtually every piece of code that gets written today calls some API. If you want to create an API that will be widely-used, here are a couple of principles you need to apply to your design process:

  • Make sure that you fully understand the HTTP protocol; this includes knowing how it puts requests and handles posts, since this is the foundation the developers will build upon.
  • Be sure that you know how to link between code and resources; since the online world is so massive nowadays, you need to know how to link everything together.
  • You need to know how you’re going to present a single resource compared to a group of resources; there no formal standards for this but talk to you colleagues about the best practices.

The Bottom Line

And there you have it; now you understand the importance of quality API design for modern apps. By following the principles we laid out above, you’ll be able go through the design process without any problems and come up with an API your fellow developers will be able to use for years.

We hope you enjoyed our article and that you found it helpful. As always, if you have any questions or if you feel like we missed out on something important, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below and we’ll get back at you as soon as possible.

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