Categories: Hardware & Software

Principles of a Good API Architecture

Good API Architecture: Applications Programming Interfaces (API) are the major software applications building blocks that power the sharing of data and communication between the applications. They are used by organizations to add value to their clients and automate their business processes. In addition, they make it possible for organizations to keep up with the changing demands of their customers.

As such, API developers need to make sure that their APIs are designed well, follow a set of principles, and are optimized to meet the demands of the API consumers and end-users. APIs have changed how businesses operate. They have also made it easy for software developers to come up with new applications within a short period of time. Developers use APIs to interact with and consume data.

A good example is global organizations such as Facebook, Google, and universities that have come up with APIs that developers can implement in their applications for them to consume these organizations’ data. For instance, online learning has become popular in recent years. Today, students can attend classes and complete their coursework without even attending a physical class, all because of APIs.

This means that when building APIs, one should make sure that they are easy to use, straightforward, and follow a set of principles recognized by all developers. If a developer finds it difficult to use an API, chances are that they will stop using the API and look for another alternative that is easy for them. This is something that API owners do not want to hear since consumer and developer experience is one of the metrics they use to measure the success of their APIs.

Some of the principles of a good API architecture include;

Layers

API developers need to divide the design of their APIs into different API layers to make the entire architecture simple and abstract the APIs’ requirements from the implementation of the APIs. An API architecture should be divided into the following layers;

Caching: The caching layer helps developers to reduce the usage of resources. This happens when the cached content is made available after a request is made.

Security: The security layer is one of the most important features in an API architecture. It is responsible for enforcing the security of an API. For instance, a request should first go through this layer before it can go to any of the other layers.

Orchestration Layer: This layer is responsible for manipulating data coming from different interfaces of the API.

Representational Layer: This layer helps developers to isolate services and data from the interface of the API. Developers can even implement other interfaces and APIs on this layer.

Styles

Apart from layers, the other important principle of a good API architecture is style. It is advisable for API developers to look for one style that best fits their requirements when building APIs.

However, there are situations that might force developers to use a mixture of styles for them to meet the goals and objectives of their businesses. This gets a little bit more complex for them and requires a lot of time and competence. That notwithstanding, the right style reduces the time that developers take when building APIs. 

There are multiple styles that developers can choose from. The most common styles include REST, SOAP, RPS, and HATEOAS. REST stands for Representational State Transfer and is the most commonly used style.

Scalability

API developers need to make sure that their APIs are scalable enough to adapt to any future changes in usage and consumer as well as customer demands. This is a decision that should be made early on during the design and development of the API.

For instance, a developer might build an API with an expectation of a certain number of users. However, over time, this usage might increase to double or even triple figures. In such a situation, the API should not fail or become slow. It should be scalable enough to handle any changes in usage.

What Should Developers Do?

To ensure a good API architecture, developers need to make sure that they have followed the principles discussed above. These principles revolve around the usability of the APIs, meaning that they make the usage of APIs easy and straightforward. With this, they are guaranteed to come up with APIs that are easy to use, error-free, and that meet the requirements of their customers and consumers.

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