APIs have become one of the most important tools for businesses today. They allow computer applications to communicate and share information, meaning that through them, a computer program can be used by other programs.
Businesses are continuously integrating new APIs with their applications to enhance growth and productivity. They are doing this through the use of APIs which have opened a new channel revolving around the sharing of services. Due to this, businesses are trying to learn a lot about APIs and their ability to change their business operations.
What Does This Mean for Developers?
On the other hand, this opens a new opportunity for developers. To start with, APIs can be seen as a service for developers. When a developer is writing a new program, they do not have to build the core application from scratch. Instead, they can use already created APIs and assign them some of the responsibilities of the application.
Further, developers can use API development for innovation and as a source of income. This is achieved through the development of third-party APIs, or rather OpenAPIs. An OpenAPI is an API that is publicly available and that offers developers programmatic access to a proprietary software application.
Organizations can use these third-party APIs to meet their requirements instead of having to build software from scratch. For instance, when a company is building a hotel booking software, they would most likely look for a suitable booking API instead of building the whole software from scratch.
These are what we call OpenAPIs. Developers who would like to convert their APIs to OpenAPIs can use the APITransform tool to upload their Postman collection then let the tool do the conversion for them. Unfortunately, some developers are already losing it in this lucrative market. Here are a number of things that they are doing wrong that could be chasing away potential customers.
1. Using Protocol that is Difficult to Understand
Most APIs use either JSON-RPC or JSON:API protocols that are known to be easy to use, debug, and lightweight. Using protocols that limit language support only to the client libraries that you provide is one way to chase away potential customers since such protocol is difficult to debug and understand as well.
2. Allowing one API Key
An API Key can be defined as a basic password used to identify and authenticate a customer. API customers will always want to change their APIs keys at some point due to different reasons. However, permitting one API Key at a time will make this impossible.
Changing such an API Key will make clients lose access until they are also updated. Customers can also not change the client first because it will not be possible for the server to know the new key. It even gets more complicated in situations where there are many clients.
3. Hiding API Documentation from Search Engines
Today, search engines have become the go-to place when developers are facing any issues. When an API developer hides their API documentation from search engines or maybe makes the documentation difficult to access, most potential customers will find it difficult to use the API and might opt to use a competing API. Simple things such as requiring a sign up before one can access such documentation are also discouraged.
4. Maintaining Documentation Manually
An API will always evolve due to changing requirements from its consumers. This might leave the API documentation out of sync, making it difficult for developers to use it.
API developers are, however, encouraged to use systems that allow them to define their APIs and documentation in one place then does the work of auto-generating server stubs, the documentation, and SDK bindings in several languages to overcome this problem.
A smart developer will try to do as much as they can to make sure that their APIs are easy to use to remain relevant in the market.