Top 10 API Worst Practices

We try to stay positive at ProgrammableWeb. We've talked a lot about the keys to a great API, but not so much about what some of the lesser APIs do. And, with a directory of over 6,000 APIs, you'd better believe we've seen some worst practices.

  • Poor error handling
  • REST APIs that ignore HTTP rules
  • Exposing your raw underlying data model
  • Security complexity
  • Unexpected and undocumented releases
  • Poor developer experience
  • Expect an MVC framework "gives" you a great API
  • Assume if you build it they will come
  • Inadequate support
  • Poor documentation

Many of these issues came up in the developer survey that said Facebook causes the most developer pain.

For other tips on the positive side, see what makes a great API.

Photo by Richard Riley

Adam DuVander The former ProgrammableWeb Executive Editor, Adam is an API expert now helping regular people connect them at Zapier. Previously he worked at API companies SendGrid and Orchestrate, and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101. Find him at



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