It should be easy for experienced devs in an organised team to create APIs quickly and easily, but it too often isn’t. Vivek Gupta, VP of product management at AnyPresence, reveals to Fred Churchville over at TechTarget the six key aspects of API creation that you need to get right.
First thing, according to Gupta, is connectivity with core systems, such as databases and legacy services. API devs don’t want to get tied up in the details of getting the API to connect with systems they might not know well. Gupta recommends finding API creation tools that take care of connectivity in order to free up API creators’ time.
The second key aspect is giving devs control over the final product. API creators should be able to see, and have some control over, what the final product will look and feel like. Treating devs like code monkeys who don’t need to know what the end product will be is a recipe for delays.
The next key thing to get right is the dev workflow. API creators need a clear overview of the dev workflow from initial prototyping to the final product. Gupta advises teams to find an off-the-shelf tool that gives a simple graphical overview of dev workflow.
Fourth in line is testing. If you find issues with an API after you’ve sent it off to the QA team, you’re going to waste valuable time. Gupta says developers need to be able to test APIs in a dev environment without the need for extra servers or virtual machines so they can catch issues before delivering code to testers.
Related to testing is simulation. Devs should be able to simulate the production environment without needing access to production databases or services. In large organisations, it can be tedious and time-consuming to simply get access to many of these services. It’s much faster to just simulate these with fake data if necessary. Gupta remembers a client who hosted a hackathon for potential recruits but didn’t want to give attendees access to the production API. Instead a simulated environment was created in a week with which the client could test its API much faster than before as well as test potential recruits.
Lastly, API creators need to take care of documentation and logging. If you don’t write docs as you go, clients will struggle to understand your API and you’ll end up having to make changes to the API or write those docs later when the details are fuzzy in your head. Logging, on the other hand, is key to knowing how your API is used and if it’s returning errors to clients. For both documentation and logging, Gupta recommends finding tools that help automate the process, like Swagger for automated API documentation.