API reuse: 6 tips for building a good reusable API

The term “reusable APIs” is not new to us. We’ve identified this problem with many of the clients we are currently working with to integrate with apinity exchange.

What is API Sprawl anyway?

As companies grow and tend towards more digital solutions and processes, two problems are created: a growing number of available APIs and a dispersion of those APIs across different domains of the organization.

It becomes increasingly easy to be stuck in a forest of APIs. Who is maintaining it? Can I use it? How is it secured? Is it obsolete?

How to fix problems caused by API sprawl

This guide will initially focus on the practical aspects of publishing APIs to third parties. More use cases will follow in later articles.

“Resolving these issues is where reusable APIs come into play.”

A reusable API is an API that is designed from scratch with the goal of being multi-purpose and inter-domain. They connect different applications or systems, preventing each one of those from defining its own, redundant, variant. The obvious benefit is the efficiency of developing, maintaining, and managing a single API for the same goal.

Consider these 6 tips for creating a good, reusable API

  1. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS): APIs should be easy to understand and use. They should have a clear and concise interface and avoid unnecessary complexity.
  2. Make them self-explanatory: APIs should be self-explanatory and use descriptive names for functions and parameters. This makes it easier for developers to understand how to use the API.
  3. Use clear and consistent error messages: Clear and consistent error messages are essential for helping developers understand why their code is not working as expected. Using standardized error codes, in the correct context, is very important.
  4. Document thoroughly: Thorough and accurate documentation is crucial so developers can easily understand and use your API. This includes providing examples and explanations of all functions and parameters.
  5. Keep it flexible: APIs should be flexible enough to support a wide range of use cases. This may involve providing multiple ways to accomplish a task or allowing developers to specify their own configuration options.
  6. Test thoroughly: Thorough testing is essential for ensuring that your API is reliable and performs well. This includes testing for a wide range of inputs and edge cases.

What are the developers’ interests when designing a reusable API?

Developers can avoid the implementation of redundant services across different teams or departments. Reusable APIs are therefore less maintenance-intensive and should allow streamlined testing. Teams of developers can then start cooperating more with other departments and share the burden of particularly high-cost features, increasing their implementation efficiency and reducing the time needed to go to market.

It also becomes easier to have a unified API governance strategy by which you can manage and enforce standards and policies for APIs – ensuring APIs are developed consistently across your organization – just like the standards you should apply to the code used to bring them to life.

Do you want to learn more?

Do you have any questions about our products and services? Please give us some info so the right person can get back to you.