An API or Application Programming Interface is a powerful technology that enables two applications to talk to each other. Nowadays, thousands of apps use different APIs to retrieve data. In fact, every business that uses advanced technology uses an API or APIs at some point. Hence, API development is on the rise. While thousands of free APIs are available in the market, not every API functions properly. This is because many developers make some common mistakes when developing APIs. Read on to learn if you’re making those mistakes and how to avoid them.
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What Is API Development?
Developing an API means developing a tool that allows two software to talk to each other. An API enables users to send requests to a remote data set and then returns data back to the application in a readable way. Hence, developers don’t have to worry about creating data sets for their apps.
For example, if you’re making a weather app, you can use a reliable weather API to query current or future weather data and display it on your app for users. Similarly, you can use an IP to geolocation API to collect the location data of your website users. Billions of people unknowingly use APIs every day. For instance, whenever someone signs in to Facebook or shares a post, they use an API.
Most APIs these days use REST architectural style to access data because of its impressive benefits. In RESTful APIs, a unique URL identifies only one resource.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Mistakes Developers Make When Developing APIs?
If you’re developing an API, you should consider the following points:
Are You Using Lots Of Endpoints While Developing APIs?
An API endpoint is essentially the location from where the API accesses the resources it needs to perform its function. In other words, users can use API endpoints to access the resources they need. However, creating too many endpoints for different API methods can be confusing for users. For this reason, it’s best to develop a few endpoints that users can use for multiple resources. Doing this will also help you create a high-performance API as there will be fewer API requests.
Are You Using The Right HTTP Methods While Developing APIs?
When you’re developing APIs’ endpoints, you need to ensure you’re using the right HTTP methods. RESTful APIs usually support four main HTTP to perform different tasks, and it’s best to follow these methods. These include:
- GET: You can use GET to retrieve data
- POST: This HTTP method is used for resource collection
- PUT: Updates a resource
- DELETE: Removes a resource
Do You Know About Different HTTP Response Codes While Developing APIs?
When developing APIs, it’s essential that you know about different HTTP responses, especially the error responses. These responses play a crucial role in the proper working of your APIs. Knowing about different error responses helps you make necessary changes to your API to ensure it functions properly.
Following are the five main HTTP response codes:
- 100-199: Informational responses
- 200-299: Successful responses
- 300-399: Shows that users need to perform one or multiple actions to complete API requests successfully
- 400-499: Client-side errors
- 500-599: Server-side errors
Do You Have Proper API Documentation?
No matter how good your API is, users can’t understand how it works without proper documentation. Good API documentation explains each API event, method, and endpoint in detail and has coding examples. Here is an example of perfect API documentation from the APILayer API marketplace.
Do You Validate Data When Developing APIs?
Data validation is one of the most common but important steps to follow while developing APIs. You might have a robust API design, but not validating the data you input can ruin its design. For example, let’s say there is a non-obligatory field that requires a value, but the user enters an empty value. In such a case, your API is going to end up with problems. However, when you validate all the input data, you can prevent such issues.
Is Your API Flexible?
Good APIs are flexible, which means you can update them easily and add new features. One of the best ways to develop flexible APIs is to use a versioning system right from the start. Doing this will enable you to make changes to different endpoints without any issues. For instance, you can add a unique identifier of each update in the request header. This way, only compatible updates will be accepted.
Are You Using A Lot Of Abstractions While Developing APIs?
Abstraction is a coding process that allows programmers to hide irrelevant data related to an object to improve efficiency. However, using wrong abstractions while developing APIs can make them complex. Additionally, using lots of abstractions isn’t good as it makes it difficult to maintain the app.
Is Your API Scalable?
You should design your API in a way that users can use it for all types of projects, small or large. It should be easy to use and able to handle multiple responses and interactions.
Are You Sharing All The API Data With End-Users?
A common mistake many API developers make while developing APIs is sharing all the API data or resources with users. This can affect the performance of the API due to increased processing time and unnecessary load on back-end servers. When several different clients are using your API, it’s best to assign each user a unique set of permissions.
Are You Following The Best Security Practices While Developing APIs?
One of the most common mistakes developers make while developing APIs is not making their API secure. For instance, you can use authentication to ensure your API is secure. However, it’s essential to also keep usability in mind so that users don’t have to spend too much time on authentication. Best APIs usually use token-based authentication.
You should configure your APIs using SSL certificates to encrypt sensitive data/information you send on the internet. It’s because when you send information over the internet, any computer between you and the destination computer can use it.
If you’re looking for easy-to-use and secure APIs, the APILayer marketplace is the best place. It consists of several free-to-use APIs for different purposes. From Google search API to tax data API, the APILayer free API store offers a wide range of APIs. All these REST APIs are scalable, which means you can use them as per your requirements.
Have You Tested Your API?
When you’re developing APIs, you need to keep in mind how they would work in the real world. And once you’ve developed your API, you must test it as real-world users would.