Most apps now depend on third-party APIs to deliver crucial functions and features for their apps. APIs work like reusable and ready-to-use components for applications across the platforms. But do developers use any API without evaluating how it can add value to their product? No, they do not. Often mobile app developers stick to only a few APIs for building features and functions. Actually, most APIs lack proper documentation, versioning and come with other shortcomings.
What are the mistakes that app developers should avoid while building API? Let us explain these wrongs one by one.
1. API Focused Mentality
API is not an app, it is a coded component that can be utilised to build apps. This requires a focused approach to building API. You need to be aware of the opportunities with API and how you can build credibility to attract developers. The most important thing about API is its capability to integrate across platforms for building sophisticated apps across multiple OS systems.
You don't need to focus on anything beyond the API. How developers will use the API that should only concern you. This is why it is important to write the endpoint of the API first on the basis of how people will interact with the API while using your app. Apiary.io is a great tool for developers to get the know-how of using API for creating a user-centric experience. The developers should also publish the API on the DevOps early and often.
A well-documented API helps developers to connect the blocks of code to create something innovative. This is why detailed documentation of the API is very important. The documentation should guide the app developers about connecting blocks of code for the kind of application they want to build. Here are some takeaways.
- The API developers should design and develop the API with detailed documentation.
- At the same time, with app testing, the developers should take extreme care in preventing bugs and broken code lines.
- Always build API by putting your feet in the shoes of consumers. At the same time document the API keeping developers in mind.
- Follow the most widely followed standard in documenting API. Follow the examples of other successful APIs.
- Lastly, never forget running functional tests of the API to detect any shortcoming or performance issues.
3. API Versioning
Updating the API with newer versions is one of the most important things to do. It keeps the API continuously on track of getting better. Suppose an app is heavily dependent on a particular API and now the makers of the API decided to bring a lot of changes to it. Now, if they do it perfectly they will not do anything with the version your app is using. But in case they do not maintain any versions and bring the change in the existing version, your app is likely to be in trouble.
Though versioning is a common practice, there are still many APIs that do not follow this practice. Naturally, any change in the API will bring seismic destruction to the iOS or Android apps that are using the API. This is why it is always advisable to include versioning protocol and make changes with subsequent versions.
4. Ensure User-Centric API Design
API design is another mission-critical building blocks for a successful API. This requires understanding a variety of use cases and different endpoints. By understanding these you can easily see how the API is going to benefit different consumer needs through an app.
5. Testing Environment
An API is an integral part of an app that helps to perform a function. Why developers are fond of them? Well, APIs simply make their job easier by providing ready-to-use code for performing certain functions. Now, the question is the API should help to perform the intended action. For instance, in a shopping app, a Payment gateway API can be integrated. Now, if the API doesn't work properly the app loses business.
So, the developers of an API should test the same in the intended environment before releasing it. Always test the API keeping all possible scenarios of use in mind. More you test the API across different environments, more you become assured of the intended performance.
Consistency is another crucial requirement for a successful API. Now consistency refers to two aspects. First of all, don't confuse with different API endpoints. For instance, you cannot build authorisation using SOAP while the rest of the API is built using JSON. Just consistently use one language throughout. If everything can be built by using JSON, just stick to that.
Another important aspect is to use consistent names of the property throughout an API. For instance, don't use api_key (underscore) in one place and apiKey (camel case) in another place.
Such mistakes on consistency are not big ones and one can easily avoid that. But in case you are not aware of them, your reputation as a developer can be at stake and the API can never experience popularity.
All the wrongs and mistakes mentioned above are common across many APIs. There are many popular APIs as well that have such shortcomings. As a top mobile app development company, we believe an API to get popular and continue with a valuable presence across many apps, even the small mistakes like consistency should be addressed. It is needless to say that for testing the app success the API developers can not afford to commit mission-critical mistakes like the lack of documentation, the absence of versioning and improper testing.