Even though many developers are focusing on RESTful API Design, the fact is that most of these will fail. I understand that it may come across as a pessimistic statement, but it is true. APIs can really fail, but even when they don’t, there is a great possibility that they will function inadequately. APIs fail not because they were particularly bad but because it was missing important elements. Many times it can be poor marketing, sometimes an existing bad reputation which meant most seasoned programmers stayed away from it. Also, a lack of documentation is amongst the leading reasons for failure. The only way to avoid this from happening to you is to learn why others are failing.
No Version Numbers
Who would have thought that something so basic would be the leading cause of an API failing. However, it is this lack of primary function that causes many to be confused about the API. APIs fail because the developers don’t know what version number it is using. Also, a lack of versioning sends the signal that the developer isn’t particularly invested in it and so there will be a lack of future support. Adding a version number costs nothing,but it helps boost confidence. Plus, it is a necessity if you ever want to continue investing in its success.
No developer will want to have to deal with one day finding out that their API’s design changed. Once the API is out and implemented across several software programs, there will be hundreds if not thousands using it. A change in the API will break it. So, it is important to add a version number so that when you update it, you don’t have to remove the old one from the system, just introduce the improved version. That means you’re not breaking anything.
Choosing XML but not JSON For Programming the API
We have seen XML become the leading development language of choice for many API developers. It is a great language for developing APIs. However, that idea has long been outdated ever since 2001 and beyond. Today making the mistake of using XML can cost you dearly. XML is no longer considered the right coding language and the same goes for SOAP. So, you’ll want to use JSON instead of XML.
JSON supports plain and simple language in comparison to XML, which induces that it has a more readable format. It also contains no tags, which makes it much easier and faster to work with. Developers consider JSON as a default, as it has become an industry standard.
In today’s development world a bug or any other problem with the API will spread 100 times faster than any particular perk. So, if the early adopters run into issues with your API, and can’t figure out how to fix it, the will ditch and talk about it. Bad error handling can be frustrating to the developer so much so that they will make sure to tell the world about it.
You should always implement robust error handling which uses HTTP status codes. You may also want to link over to a Wiki, which will make it easier for developers to study how the API works and the best way to implement it in their program.
Lack of Security
No security mechanism in your API means that no developer will want to touch it. Security is a major concern,and if there is no security, the API will not be adopted or implemented. You can choose from an array of security measures which range from tokens to authentication servers. So, don’t skimp on this important feature.
When API fails, the users won’t see that the API is falling down, but your complete program failing, and you are the one to blame. How can you prepare for possible API failures? A great tip here is to test your system’s response to API failures. Including virtual APIs in your regime will show you both successful responses and conditions that can cause failures.
Sometimes you won’t be able to prevent your API from falling, buy what you can do here is to prevent bringing down the whole application. In this phase, it is important to contain the damage. However, bear in mind that the success of your API relies on how well it is planned and developed. The more involved you are in the planning, the better will be the end result. Plus getting it right on the first try should be a priority and despite being a challenge its imperative to your success.