Beginners’ Guide to API Design

Beginners’ guide to API design
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Do you want to find out how to design a good API? Many books, articles, forums offer different solutions and guide you through the process. In this article, we will present you a beginner’s guide to API design and the most important principles you should follow.

It doesn’t matter what your personal favorite style and idea is, as the point here is to stick to some rules. The result will be a consistent, awesomely designed API. These principles we are about to reveal to you are universal for both Open and Private APIs.


The process of API designing can be very complicated and challenging. Developers have headaches over API designs. Once a developer gets a headache, he might get off the right way.

Yet, there is a solution to this problem. To prevent your API going astray, make it easy to understand. Developers wouldn’t want to deal with a too complicated API.

Try to understand them in this case, as everybody is trying to get the things done in a smooth way.

How would you make your API easy to understand? You should focus on its essence. Once you define what is your API’s main function, you would already be on a good way to make it understandable to others too.

Go with the main features first, and then upgrade it with more features later. A mess in the start would make things messier as the API develops.

The other point here is to make your API minimalist. In other words – you should make an API that has only a few members per class. It would be great to make as many classes as it is possible. This contributes to an easier understanding of the API, too.


Once the API lacks the consistency, it falls the same second. We have seen many situations like this. This is not a serious threat if you take it from the right perspective.

You just have to make sure that you are using the same sequence for all functions, and basically – that is all. If it would be the opposite, random changes in sequences would confuse developers, who would take much time to figure out the solution.

As your main goal is to make your API widely adopted, follow the consistency principle.

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Document Everything:

We can associate this principle with the first one. As we already mentioned, it is highly important that a developer understands your API.

Documentation that lays behind every function and feature of an API makes it understandable. You might make a mistake and assume that a developer would understand something you haven’t explained through the documentation.

Understandable API is a reliable API. Even if you might think that we stress out this principle too much, but believe us when we say that solid documentation gets the things done the right way.


This is one of the primary principles of API design. In order to make the API adapted, use versioning effectively.

You should never remove the previous version’s support once the new version is released.

Leave the old version supported, because if you don’t, you will send suspicious signals. It would give off an impression that you are not serious about your work.

Let’s summarize:

If you want a good designed, powerful API, it should have the following features:

  • let it be minimalistic,
  • make it easy to Comprehend,
  • be Intuitive,
  • Document every feature and function,
  • lead it to readable code,
  • update new versions, but never forget about the old ones.

A designing process might be fun and exciting, but if you are a newbie in this domain, make sure to follow these principles, as it will serve you well for the rest of your career.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article Beginners’ Guide to API Design was written by Manoar Molla. The article was last modified: February 16th, 2020
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