In the last decade, and especially over the past few years, software engineering has gone through some major transformations. One of the most significant developments is the API. APIs have resulted in some significant changes in how software is created.
API development and service-oriented applications have had a large tech market share for many years. Recently, however, innovations and modern development concepts have changed the way the industry looks at API development itself. This has created several challenges that API creators need to address.
One challenge, in particular, is the fact that API development needs to be simpler. With the increased demand for cloud-native applications, distributed systems, and AI, APIs must provide easy-to-comprehend interfaces that don’t expose system complexities.
In this article, we look at some of the most vital questions surrounding API development and modern software engineering practices.
What are the modern API development best practices?
In order to make the API development process easier to manage, developers need to follow some basic best practices.
One example of this is in using the REST architecture for API development. In order to maintain consistency, best practice normally recommends sending accepting JSON values in request and response payloads. Moreover, your API must return status codes in both success and failure cases. Without status codes, there is no way for API users to diagnose a problem.
Furthermore, in order to comply with the REST style, you should never use verbs in your endpoint URLs. This is because HTTP verbs already represent an action. Instead, your endpoint URL should contain the name of the resource receiving the action.
Next, in the case of a request failure, you should always return the error message and description in the error body. These are just a handful of the best practices the software industry uses to facilitate simplified API development. You should always follow them too.
How can third-party services influence API development and platform engineering?
There is no point in reinventing the wheel, especially with technology-oriented businesses and competition increasing. Often, other people or organizations have already invested the time, done the hard work, and achieved the result you want.
Instead, to remain competitive, you should remain open to giving credit where credit is due. This means using already-built services if they suit your use case. This includes open-source SDKs, subscription-based services, or third-party APIs.
For instance, weatherstack is an API by apilayer that allows you to fetch meteorological data based on parameters you specify in the API request. If you are building an IoT-driven mobile app that requires accurate meteorological data, you can simply use the third-party services weatherstack has already made publicly available.
This way, a major chunk of your business logic gets outsourced to a third-party vendor making your codebase cleaner and smoothing your API development process.
How do microservices play part in simplifying API development?
Microservices are a somewhat newer concept in software design and architecture. The microservice architecture pattern allows developers to create loosely coupled applications. These contribute towards the independent scalability of modules across a complex application.
API development also gets simplified when a monolith is broken into modular microservices. Each module constitutes its own set of APIs and service logic. Inter-module communication either uses messaging queues or internal APIs. This makes microservices extremely easy to develop, maintain, and execute.
How does REST API development contribute to simplified resource management?
A major portion of REST architecture revolves around the intuitive and simplified interpretation and mapping of resources in a system. If you are developing APIs using the REST architectural pattern, you are already contributing to the simplified API development and design process.
GraphQL, which is a newer API query language, is a great choice for simplifying API development. This is particularly true in cases where a conventional request payload and its interpretation/mapping against the resources is complex and inefficient.
Can container management facilitate smooth API development and deployment?
Containerization and container management have simplified the development, packaging, and deployment of software applications in general. As more and more on-premise and cloud deployment options become available, containerization and container orchestration solutions such as Docker with Kubernetes have imagined deployment on an abstract level and simplified the developer experience.
Using containerization, your simple API development process can be easily shipped to production using the power container orchestration and deployment.
As you can see, there are quite a few modern technological concepts that you can apply to make the process of API development smooth, simple, easy to understand, and abstract from a client perspective.
One of the most important challenges is developing an interface that allows clients to easily interact with only your resources — in essence, to shield them from the actual implementation and complexities of the system.
With that in mind, technologies and engineering concepts discussed above, if properly applied, can significantly improve the process and provide a path to make the future of your API development simple.
apilayer is an initiative that truly understands and believes in simplified API design. It uses forward-thinking development processes within its own APIs as well as providing design and development guidelines for custom services that use it as a third-party service.