Why Not To Overlook API Planning And What To Do About It

By now, you've heard how important it is to have an API strategy. APIs today are like Web sites a decade ago. There's no way your business can do without them. And so, with no time to lose because of the imperative to join the API economy, you do what everyone else does; you rush your first APIs out the door based on your existing IT estate (what it is you have to offer) and without much concern for who your target developer is, or what they care about (the way most first-time Web sites are built too).

While you may not have established KPIs for your APIs (don't worry, you're not alone), reality sinks as you begin to realize that something's amiss. Perhaps there aren't enough sign-ups or maybe there are performance issues. Whatever it is, you feel like you're getting very little return on your investment. You start thinking, "I dropped everything and rushed us into the API economy for this?"

So you go back to square one to figure out where you went wrong. You dig through what few API analytics you have. You ask developers for feedback. A picture begins to form and version 2 starts to take shape. Only now you've got a problem. Version1 is out there and like it or not, an API is a contract. If you breach it through deprecation, a bunch of developers will come after you wanting blood. If you keep it going, now you've got more than you bargained for from a maintenance, support, and cost point of view. Holy crap, where did this go off the rails?

Planning. In your rush to build a minimally viable API and get it out the door, you blew though the planning phase of your API and now, that short-sightedness has come home to roost.

Luckily, for many of you, there's still time to fix the problem. Maybe you have forgiving developers (and bosses) or maybe you're reading this article before starting your API journey. Whatever the reason is, there's never a bad time to develop a better understanding of what it means to plan an API. This is why ProgrammableWeb is publishing the second chapter of Undisturbed REST: A Guide To Designing The Perfect API by Michael Stowe. The excerpt is dedicated to the art of API planning and will likely inspire you to get a copy of the entire book for free.

David Berlind is the editor-in-chief of ProgrammableWeb.com. You can reach him at david.berlind@programmableweb.com. Connect to David on Twitter at @dberlind or on LinkedIn, put him in a Google+ circle, or friend him on Facebook.

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