An Overview of API and API Integration
API (Application Programming Interface) is a piece of software that enables data exchange between applications and devices., as well as facilitate connectivity between devices and programs. API can also be defined as an interface that allows an enterprise application to communicate with backend systems, promotes seamless communication between multiple applications, and exposes only a limited amount of the internal functions of a program.
How Crucial Is the REST API Design in an API Integration Scenario?
Primarily APIs are used to establish a link between applications and devices. Crafting a proper REST API can help build functional integration between the required components. However, wrong implementation could compromise the entire project.
To implement a good REST API design architecture, you need to follow some basic rules, which are as follows:
- Know the applications and the associated use cases before the intended implementation.
- It is very important to know the HTTP constraints.
- Follow the architecture and the binding framework used for engineering.
- Ensure proper handling of already exposed end-point changes.
The design of an API and the range of services represented are the primary drivers of design. However, developers and architects often tend to ignore the overall goal involved in API building.
Architecting API Requires Both Artistic Thinking and Discipline
API design is not just about emphasizing a structured software, but it also focusses on being user friendly. A good API can support a well-defined set of use cases or scenarios. Mentioned below are the following key factors that one should look at when looking for a good API.
- Overcoming Challenges To Maintain API QualityEase of Use: API endpoints should be easy enough for accomplishing basic tasks.
- Improved Efficiency: The design pattern should be easy to learn so that the developer can quickly perform the required job after he/she learns the design pattern.
- Good Consistency: A good API will enable developers to easily re-establish proficiency even if they return after a period of gap.
- Quality Check: Helps to keep track of the frequency of errors that developers make, the severity of these errors and the speed at which these errors can be recovered.
- Increased Satisfaction: API offers a pleasant user experience of the application design.
Planning and testing are the two important constituents of an API development. Without them, a development cycle could become large with a higher defect rate. A good quality API therefore matters both for API consumers and providers. In the case of consumers, a buggy API could mean a longer development cycle and a higher defect rate. In some cases, problems related to teamwork could even arise. For example —dependency on the one person who had mastered the art of calling the API correctly.
Fortunately, many tools and design approaches have come up that yield better and more consistent results in API development. These design approaches focus on leveraging the best practices at leading organizations, considering usability, and deploying appropriate tools.
Three general principles when considering REST API quality —
- Thorough understanding of the HTTP protocol and its ability in handling posts and puts requests. This is important because REST is built upon the foundation of HTTP.
- Good knowledge on how to establish a link between the resources and the code.
- Determining how a single resource can be represented as compared to a group of resources. Although no formal standards are available, developers nevertheless need to refer to the best practices while doing this.
Currently, there are many enterprise API frameworks that are available. Using one of those can increase the overall API quality, making it easy to understand and use, while improving the overall productivity.
General Design Rules of REST API
APIs can be viewed as a set of endpoints guided by verbs and nouns. A sentence containing a verb represents a requested action (such as get, put, delete), while the nouns denote arguments appropriate to the action. It’s a good practice to always generate a status or a result variable that communicates error conditions or successful execution.
The syntax of the API is important because with the ability of the API to convey its services and parameters, developer errors get clearly reduced.
The error conditions should be comprehensive enough to communicate snags to the end user.
The Beginning of a Future with REST API
In the world of componentized applications, RESTful APIs are gradually being regarded as superior in the world of integration. As businesses delve deeper in search of new technologies that will help them to regain speed, maintain agility, and leverage data, application interfaces like the APIs are the big bang in terms of abstraction. In fact, all major software applications today have started exposing APIs so that their customers can extract additional benefits from their products.