Common Pitfalls in API Design and Implementation

November 12, 2021
API Design

Making an API from the ground up is troublesome. Many newbie developers skip the first step of designing an API before implementing it, which leads to all sorts of problems.

Here is a list of a few common pitfalls in API design and implementation that you should know about:

Pitfalls in API Design

API designing is an important stage as it increases the usability of your code. Just like how two flavors confuse the palate, be sure to keep a clean and modular design. Here are a few pitfalls you should know:

1. Data validation

The most common and obvious pitfall in API design and implementation is skipping over the process of data validation. Input validation can reduce the number of potential problems that the user might face manyfold.

However, do ensure that you are not forcing the user to enter a single data type in a certain field. This can lead to you adding more content in your documentation and forcing the programmer to stick to one issue.

2. Adding layers

Stop adding layers to your API like a premium chocolate cake made for a giant panda. It is understandable that sometimes you wish to generalize your APIs but do consider just extending your APIs like an object if you really must.

3. Inconsistency

Consistency is always a good idea, especially if you are creating an API design that needs to be implemented by a team. Stop trying to stitch together various projects and ideas. Instead, it would be better if you followed through with a single thought pattern.

4. Useless parameters

Try to keep as few parameters as possible when designing API functions. The more the parameters, the higher the chance that the user will stumble and get something wrong. This also adds in more work for you in the future when you must think about scalability.

5. Pitfalls in API Implementation

Many developers think that so long as they have a good design, implementation will go flawlessly. This is not true all the time. Here are a few pitfalls that you want to avoid when implementing APIs

(Also Read: Application Development Challenges)

6. Permissions

Follow the basic rules that you did for Object-Oriented Programming: don’t just publicize everything you are allocating memory for. Sometimes, you will have to use similar named variables and functions across different files that must be shared. Encapsulate everything to ensure maximum readability and compatibility.

7. Exposing entire operations

Not all API calls are made equally. Some functions take more processing and memory than others. Exposing an entire operation to call is considerably more expensive than exposing a single object. This will also boost your Api’s IO performance.

8. Separate schemas for a single object

Try to keep a single schema when you are trying to add, update or even remove an object. Multiple schemas will not only unnecessarily confuse the programmers, but also the users. Additionally, this will also bloat up your API calls.

Final Thoughts

Designing and implementing an API can be a very time-consuming job, but it doesn’t have to be tedious. Keep your design simple and generic and you shouldn’t have any major problems implementing that API.

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