Justin Lake
3 min readMay 17, 2020

API developers know the struggle: designing a seamless and operational API is very hard. Just like any other area of tech, API development underwent a phase of trial and error before it shaped the strong API industry of today. It’s much easier now to pick up both knowledge and experience in API development than it was two decades ago. Still, new developers in the scene are bound to commit a few rookie mistakes along the way.

Some of these mistakes have to do with the highly technical aspects of API development, like testing and choosing description formats. Others have to do with design approaches that, luckily enough, can be rethought and improved upon. Making mistakes is a normal part of developing APIs, and a successful API launch is never 100% free of them. Still, knowing where the common pain points are — and therefore committing fewer mistakes — will upgrade both the developer’s skills and the API’s overall progress.

Here are six of the ones to watch out for and to address as soon as possible.

Not Using a Good Toolset to Build Your API

Without knowing it, you could be slowing your own progress by not using the right tools.A small and obsolete toolset may be causing you to expend too much time on certain tasks. Perhaps they’re also in the way of a more efficient workflow, and hamper your collaboration with your teammates. But this will change if you upgrade your toolset — you’ll perform better in each task required in API development. If you’re looking for options, consider an all-inclusive hosted tool like that of Stoplight. Such a change of environment will do your API development workflow a lot of good!

Thinking of the API as a Simple Request-Response Operation

The crux of newbie API developers is their assumption that APIs are simple request-response operations. This can limit their thoroughness when working on a product, for example by not testing beyond the basic calls. As a developer, you should never forget how complex an API is. Even the kind that’s designed to complete a simple service requires attention to its nuts and bolts.

Not Testing Purposefully

On the flipside, some API developers devote a lot of energy towards testing — but even this energy may be misplaced. Some may get so caught up in testing individual parts that they forget to integrate their results and approaches. Early on in your career as an API developer, note that all testing should be done purposefully. Align each test, each result, and each conclusion about the API’s disparate components with a vision of the API as a whole.

Not Keeping Good API Documentation

According to a survey done by SmartBear, API teams cite API documentation tools as one of the most crucial tools to good implementation. That’s why it’s a mistake to treat API docs as an afterthought or as mere user manuals for the API. Interactive, dynamic API documentation can help court outside developers and guide implementation.

Not Standardizing a Descriptor for a RESTful API

API specifications, or description formats for REST APIs, are what help you understand how an API behaves. Some developers don’t adopt a standard for how to call API objects, see what each object does, and know each object’s values and parameters are. It is like using two different letter cases to write all the words in one sentence. A seasoned developer knows the value of using one inclusive specification. The most popular choice by a long shot is OpenAPI Specification, a description format that can be consumed and adopted by many.

Not Thinking of the API’s Future Post-Launch

The last common mistake on this list is a major one. No API developer should think that their work ends once the product launches. Your efforts in developing an API also include its post-integration updates, maintenance, and incorporation of SDKs. The client must be able to trust you about whether or not your API is future-ready and that it will serve themlong after its integration.

How you go from rookie to pro status as an API developer? By learning, working around, and growing past these common mistakes. May your development workflow and your post-integration activities be all the better for it.

This Post was originally published on www.techclickr.com

Justin Lake is the CEO of Think Numbers, a consultancy that specialises in Finance Transformation.

Justin Lake

I’m the founder of Thinknumbers.com.au an independent consulting business helping organisations transform their finance teams through system, process and people