We are all familiar with the popular saying “Don’t reinvent the wheel”. This is also true in the world of software development. If you already have a program available that is professionally built, secure, and reliable, then why not re-use it? An API is your gateway to tried and tested software, and various services. These amazing APIs provide a mechanism to access such a piece of software.
Whether you are developing an API as a developer or hobbyist, it is important to know various aspects of the entire development process. We have compiled this guide to provide useful tips and guidelines for building awesome and powerful APIs. Continue reading to discover the secrets of developing great APIs.
Table of Contents
What Is An Application Programming Interface Or API?
API is short for Application Programming Interface. An API is the medium through which two or more software entities communicate with each other and exchange data. APIs also enable apps, clients, or websites to communicate with a server and use different services from any location.
A professionally written API gives users access to tried and tested services. That makes APIs an important addition to developer tools for all programmers.
What Are The Best Available APIs?
Some examples of APIs are IP geolocation APIs like ipstack and Google maps APIs. There are also machine learning APIs like the text to emotion API, the popular API for intelligent content extraction called Skills API, and sentiment analysis APIs and more.
What Are The 7 Tips To Help Me Develop Awesome APIs?
Here are 7 important tips for developing awesome APIs. Keep these points in mind when you build your app.
Tip # 1: Should I Develop A RESTful API?
Indeed yes! One of the best ways of developing an API is to follow the REST architecture. REST stands for Representational State Transfer and this architecture defines how an API should work. Some of the benefits of developing a REST API include the following:
What Is Stateless In The Context Of API Development?
The server completes every client request without keeping track of the previous queries or requests. This means that the server is stateless and does not have to spend extra resources in retaining the state of the client.
How Do I Make A Scalable API?
Developing a restful API enables you to scale your system efficiently. This is because the REST architecture optimizes the communication between the client and server.
What Is A Flexible API?
The REST architecture keeps the client completely separate from the server. This means you have the flexibility to implement the client and server independently.
What About Data Access?
A good REST API enables users to access data using an HTTP call or programmatic access.
Tip # 2: What Are The Main HTTP Methods For Different Tasks When Building Powerful APIs?
When developing your API endpoints, make sure you use the correct HTTP method. For example, here are a few good HTTP requests:
- GET: Use the GET request to retrieve data.
- POST: The POST request is for resource collection.
- DELETE: Remove a resource using a DELETE request.
- PUT: You can update a resource with the PUT request.
Tip # 3: What Is Your API Response Code?
If a client makes an API call, then you must return a response code following the correct HTTP convention. Each response code shows the client whether the request was successful or not.
For example, the HTTP responses occupy five groups as shown below:
- 100-199: This range represents an informational response.
- 200-299: A successful response is indicated using this range.
- 300-399: Redirection messages.
- 400-499: A Client error has occurred.
- 500-599: Server error has occurred.
Tip # 4: How Do You Return Data When Developing An API?
Whether you are developing free APIs or other APIs, you must carefully consider the format and type of data to return upon a successful request. For example, you can choose to use JSON response or return data using XML.
Whether you are returning current weather data, financial data, calendar data, country data, or more, choosing an easy-to-understand method of encapsulating this data is essential.
If you are using a JSON format to return data, then make sure you meaningfully define all your key-value pairs. Alternatively, if you are using XML, then make sure that the XML tags are also user-friendly and meaningful.
Tip # 5: Do You Have A Secure API?
Another important aspect of API development is to follow best security practices. Here are some important points to consider.
- your API should authenticate and authorize a user before processing a request. Authentication confirms the identity of the user, machine, or web page making the call. For example, API keys and authentication tokens act as a password to identify a user or website making an API call. This is also a way of making sure that the caller is authorized to request the resources in the API call.
- The OAuth protocol or JWT can be used to authenticate users of an API.
- You can achieve secure communications by using HTTPS at all endpoints that you make available to your users.
- Make sure you are encrypting all requests and responses relevant to the API. This can help deter hackers from illegal data access.
Tip # 6: Is A Well Documented API Necessary?
Another important aspect to consider is the documentation of your API. You must document everything. Even if it is just a few lines, it not only helps your users make successful API calls but also helps developers make updates to the code.
You must document all API endpoints, details of response objects or data, the meaning of all error codes, return status, and more. You can also include a few code examples that explain how an API should be called and what the response code, data, and object should look like.
Tip # 7: Have You Tested Your API?
When you write code for an API, whether a simple API, an API for an enterprise client, or an API for your own applications, you have to make sure that you have thoroughly tested it. The testing process involves testing the business logic, database layer, response object with respect to different query endpoints, and more.
Finally, make sure that you test the API by running your client on different platforms and machines.
In addition to all the tips that have been mentioned above, make sure you avoid the 11 most common mistakes made by API developers.
What Is APILayer Marketplace For The Most Used APIs In The World?
Before developing an API for your next project, do consider getting a third-party, off-the-shelf solution. Take APILayer Marketplace, for example. It is the curated API market for a set of reliable, scalable, and secure REST APIs.
With APILayer marketplace, you can use the best APIs from multiple categories such as computer vision, AI, app backends, conversion APIs, finance APIs, and more. There are also multiple APIs for messaging, SEO, security, and more. APILayer marketplace includes the most used and the most popular APIs across the world.
How Do I Sign Up For A Free API Key?
At APILayer marketplace, you can sign up and get access to free APIs. No credit card is required.
Make the most of the APILayer marketplace with tried and tested professionally built APIs for your next project. Sign up for free!