API

Building great APIs, part II: Simplicity, flexibility, and TTFHW

Building great APIs, part II: Simplicity, flexibility, and TTFHW

Last week’s “Building Great APIs” article covered two of John Musser and Adam Duvander’s 5 Key Elements of great APIs: providing value and having a business model. In this post, we’ll tackle the next topic:

  • Make it simpleflexible, and easily adopted.

The three statements seem obvious until you begin to unpick what they mean–and they might even seem contradictory. Making an API simple seems like a noble goal but it can easily be thwarted by complex edge use cases, existing legacy code and a tendency on the part of some API designers to expose underlying data models in raw form. Flexibility often breeds complexity as the API becomes overloaded to meet many use cases. We’ll take each topic in turn and finish up with an all-important metric: TTFHW (Time To First Hello World).

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Building great APIs, part I: The gold standard

Building great APIs, part I: The gold standard

Back in July, John Musser wrote an excellent post over at ProgrammableWeb on what it takes to build great APIs (also check out his OSCON slides on Slideshare). John boils what’s needed down to five key elements—valueplan and business modelflexibilitygood management, and great support.

Together with perhaps just one more–stability (an unreliable API is as good as unusable)–these points arguably should represent an “API Gold Standard” for almost any API program. Getting these right goes a long way to running a great API program and we advise anybody running an API to think about them.

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