API Design Tips That Will Help You

 API Design Tips That Will Help You

We have put together some really useful REST API design tips that any developer can use to improve their APIs by a huge margin. As professionals who have been working in the software development industry for over a decade, we are familiar with dozens of backend solutions that come out each year. However, what matters most is that an API is straightforward and easy to implement. The restful design is by far the best for all types of web APIs. Plus, REST is beneficial because it separates an API into its logical resources which can be accessed with methods like Put, Delete, GET, Post, etc. That said below are a couple of tips which all API developers will find useful.

Don’t Use Verbs 

Why? Verbs make structuring the API difficult. Verbs are best reserved for actions like manipulating server-side resources. However, there isn’t a law against using verbs that said we think that using ‘Read’ is far better than ‘Get’ when the goal is to access a document. It is something that even users of the API will agree makes life easier. 

Serialization for HTTP Headers

The other important step you’ll want to take is to use HTTP headers for serialization formats. Both the client as well as the server need to know which format is used for communication. The format then needs to be addressed as part of the header. Then the Content-Type addresses the request and ‘Accept’ is to define a list of all the formats which are accepted as a response.

The Effective Use of Paging 

Using offset and limit are very important since it is a part of all databases and happens to be flexible for those using it. The default is limited to just 20 while the offset can be set to ‘0’. You can also use code like HTTP header: X-Total-Count which will list all the entries.

Linking the previous and next page also has to be addressed in the HTTT header. It makes following the values in the header essential and not merely build URLs on your own.

HTTP Method Override Should Be Enabled

Some proxies only support two methods, i.e. Post and Get. If you need to use a RESTful API within the confines of these limitations, then the API will have to override the HTTP method. The way you can do this is to use a custom designed HTTP Header X-HTTP which will effectively override the POST method. 

Snapshots of Dashboard Data 

The biggest drawback of using any subresources is when a client wants to access data across one of them, that is near impossible for something like the dashboard display. Take for instance a software designed to allow the manager to see performance across the entire week.

However, before you do anything to the API, you have two alternatives. You can use multiple URIs, which will point to virtually the same resource. That means adding another URI within the query. Though you’ll need to make adjustments to eliminate duplication of the top level orders URL to GET requests.

The other approach is to use snapshots. It is in some instances the most efficient approach since it feels as though it's not querying a database. Though this particular approach requires better knowledge of the API.

Auto Translate 

Today’s world is multi-lingual, and so APIs shouldn’t be limited to just one language either. So, if you are developing an application using multiple languages the internal code needs to be translated. One way to do this is to allow the person using the API to define their language using the ‘Accept-Language’ HTTP header. The other method can be more complicated and beyond the scope of this article.

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