Effective API development: How to create a beautiful Java API

There's an art to creating a beautiful Java API. Here we examine the art of effective API development with Layer 7's Mike Amundsen.

How do you create a beautiful API? Knowing that effective API development is as much an art as it is a science, TheServerSide posed this very question to MikeAmundsen (@mamund), the Principal API Architect at Layer 7 Technologies in Vancouver, British Columbia. The short answer? "Treat the API as a product."

If you're thinking of your application programming interface (API) as simply a mechanism for exposing the external classes and components that make your product or service work, you're approaching the task of building your APIs from completely the wrong angle. A public API shouldn't have such a banal purpose as to simply expose the internals of a product or service to which developers wouldn't otherwise have access. Exposing internals may be the net effect of a public API, but that's not how an organization should approach an API's development.

"You're specifically crafting a product for a market; that is going to solve a problem," Amundsen said. And, to that effect, API developers should be thinking about the problem they are solving, not the components that need exposing. By taking a problem-based approach to API development, organizations will be developing a solution to the client need, and the exposure of internal components through the API that results will elute in a natural and organized way.

"Don't create APIs that simply expose objects or components or data, but one that actually solves a real problem," Amundsen said. "If you design it to solve a problem, you're going to have people flock. "

 

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This was last published in February 2013

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The article seemed to be more about APIs while the video talk a lot more on governance, particularly SOA governance. While both are informative, they did feel like different topics. Regarding APIs, I do think it is important to keep business needs in mind while designing APIs, to me it is the entire system that matters. If the API is coded poorly and has security holes, it may not matter how well designed it was. If the API does not meet the needs of your customers it doesn't matter how well coded it is.
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yeah I got a little confused on this as well.
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