As we continue to push forward in both new technologies and software, the architecture through which these tools communicate remains an important part of the process. One area that has seen a lot of press is that of API design and API architecture, as these allow app developers to access information they wouldn’t normally be able to. By harnessing this data with their technology, the overall product simply works better.

In this article, we are going to help you to create a function API architecture through 7 best practices. Each of these best practices is geared toward making the process easier for you and your customers. Since many API developers will work with other companies on their software, this is important for both the developer and end-customer to understand. Let’s get started.

api architecture

1. Be consistent

The first way to make sure that the API architecture you are creating is functional is to be consistent with your design decisions. The object here is to create a framework where users don’t have to guess how things work. Instead, you should take a page out of UX design’s book and develop your API in a way that makes sense and people expect.

This goes for both technical and behavioral decisions. For instance, on the technical side, you should always use GETs to get data and PUTs/POSTs to change it. By using different codes consistently and correctly, your API becomes much easier to use.

As far as behaviorally, sometimes you will need to teach a behavior to your users. Should you need to do this, make sure that both the meaning behind the behavior and the actually behavior itself are consistent with your message and the rest of your design. One of the fastest way to lose people is by creating a path that is difficult to follow. Keep it simple and your design will benefit from it greatly.

2. Use versioning

Even when you are following REST API best practices to the best of your ability, your business is still going to change over the lifetime of your API architecture. What this means for your development is that you should use versioning to keep everything in its rightful place. By doing so, you can always revert to a previous version to fix a bug or see where things got off track.

Make sure that if you decide to use versioning that you do so within the URL like this: api/v2/Orders. This will help with establishing a consistent rule that your users will understand how to follow.

Read more: 5 Must Follow RESTful API Guidelines

3. Think nouns instead of verbs

When you are writing our your API, part of following RESTful API guidelines is using shortcuts and other tricks to work as efficiently as possible. One case that will serve you will in this regard is thinking in terms of nouns instead of verbs. Instead of using GET /getAllEmployees, you would use something like GET / employees.

As you can tell, this is much more intuitive and looks better when written out. Although this is already a common tool when designing API architecture, as we have already learned, consistency is key.

api designers

4. Security

Since you are going to hopefully be giving your API architecture to other businesses, security is going to need to be a priority for your development. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to design with security in mind, such as:

  • Use HTTP across your APIs
  • Include a timestamp for every API request and response.
  • Use an access token so that only authorized personnel have access.

Each of these will not only make it harder for people with malicious intent to access your API, but they give you an extra layer of protection for yourself when reviewing protocols. Build your API architecture with security from the ground up for best results.

5. Validating everything

With any API architecture, you are going to be processing a lot of data. Part of following API design best practices and focusing on security means that you need to validate everything that enters your API, from the smallest number to the most complex datasheet. This is incredibly important since even one data point can throw off the entire system without the proper precautions.

However, by taking database management seriously and running all your incoming data through a validation protocol, you can stop a lot of problems from spiraling out of your control before they even become problems in the first place. Don’t make a rookie mistake, validate your data.

6. Separate concerns to keep everything testable

As you create your API architecture and design, you will encounter something called ‘controllers.’ Although many use them for other reasons, a controller’s main job is to move data to and from your service without any business logic. Where people run into problems is when they try to make this too complicated.

Instead of trying to make too much out of your controllers, you will want to make them as simple and thin as possible. When your controllers are just pointing in the right direction without having to make decisions, it becomes much easier to separate different concerns. This makes the entire system more testable and improves functionality.

api architect

7. Async/Await when possible

Our final best practice continues a thread that has run through this entire process, which is to increase efficiency across all systems through a consistent API architecture. In this case, we are referring to the Async/Await functions, which allow processes to be run while others are completed. Under normal API design, you have to wait until the entire thread is finished before moving on. With Async/Await, you don’t have this problem.

This way of doing things is especially helpful for when your API begins to gain more users. As more requests come in, it will be more and more important to work with what you have to give your users an even better experience. Hopefully your RESTful API design will do such a good job you will need to revisit this again soon.

Until then, happy developing!