Perfect API Design

5 Massive Tips for Perfect API Design

Over the years we have assembled some of the best tips that can be used to design your API. These tips will help any developer take their APIs to the very next level. As software developers ourselves these tips are the result of our years of experience in the industry.

Most of all you will benefit from these tips because they have been tried and tested, proven to work each time. While these tips are geared towards mainly REST API development, they can be used for others too. Consider these to be best practices of sorts which can be used across any project in the shortest time for best results.

HTTP Header Serialization

The next thing to consider is serialization formats for HTTP headers. Both the server and the clients should know what format is being used for communication. You also need to have the format addressed making it a part of the header. Content-Type needs to address the request with the ‘Accept’ defining a list of all the formats which are acceptable.

Paging Needs to be Leveraged Effectively

It is important to use limit and offset since it is a huge part of databases. The default is set at 20, and the offset is at ‘0’. You can also use code which will allow the system to list all entries. The next and previous pages can also be linked within the HTTP header. All of which makes following the values of a header important and not needing to build your own URLs.

Auto Translate

We live in a multi-lingual world, and so it is no wonder that we need to unleash the power of our multi-lingual world when developing APIs. APIs shouldn’t be limited to just one language. So, if the application needs to use multiple languages, all the internal code has to be translated. One method of doing this is to allow the user to define their language of choice via the ‘Accept-Language’ HTTP header.

However, the other more complicated method is beyond what we can explain in this article. Most developers don’t use the technique mainly because its way too time-consuming and crushing bugs as a consequence is difficult. So, the easy method is the way to go for most developers.

Verbs Not Allowed

Verbs are inherently difficult to use when structuring an API. You’ll want to keep verbs for things like manipulation of server-side resources. But there isn’t a rule against using verbs in an API because after all, it is better to use ‘read’ than ‘get’ when trying to read a document from the server.

Enable HTTP Method Override

We know that there are some proxies supporting just two methods, i.e. Get and Post. If you have to use a RESTful API with these limitations, then it will have to override the HTTP method. The way this is done is to use a custom HTTP Header X-HTTP which will replace the POST method.