6 Ways to Spot a Good API

APIs are increasingly shaping the tech ecosystem. Almost all modern applications now have an API endpoint that you can interact with.

APIs work as intermediaries, allowing you to create programmatic interactions between applications that people and businesses use every day.

However, not all APIs are suitable for integration and use. There are terrible APIs that frustrate users. The following is a guide that you can use to identify an API that suits your development needs.

1. Optimized API call time

Optimizing API calls means reducing the response time of an API. This includes how quickly the API serves requests and sends responses. It also means reducing the effect that large data volumes have on API speed.

The response time of an API affects the user experience. Slow APIs frustrate the user and affect application performance. A high performance API should have a response time of less than a second.

As a developer, you can test the speed of any API using Chrome Developer Tools. Open the Developer Tools > Networkthen access the API endpoint in your browser.

You’ll see a breakdown of API performance based on status, type, size, and time. Time measures the speed of the API.

Chrome developer tools testing API speed

You can go further and discuss the API components in the same tab. Click on the end point. You will see an open tab with information about its components. These include details about the Headers, ReplyY Synchronization.

Chrome dev tools show API time

Now you can tell if the API is fast enough for your application. There are other online tools you can use to test API speed. The most popular among developers are Postman Y Strut.

2. It has onboarding guides

A good API provides onboarding guidelines for users. The onboarding guide should familiarize you with the content of the API. Explains the API use cases and how to integrate them. The information may include your endpoint definitions, code snippets, and sample responses.

RapidAPI Onboarding Guide It’s a good example. The guide has everything users need to know to consume your APIs.

Weather API Onboarding Guide

Onboarding guides must also include authentication information. A well-documented authentication process is essential so that you can easily start working with the API.

APIs use different ways to authenticate their users. The most common is to use an API key. Each registered user gets an API key that he uses to make calls. The API can have different authentication keys for different categories of users.

3. Has clear and concise documentation

All technical content must be clear and concise. Clarity is especially vital for APIs. As a developer, you don’t have time to flip through a lot of documentation, so look for APIs that make it easy to learn how to use them.

Documentation ensures that users will have a good user experience. Experience is critical to increasing API adoption. Well-structured documentation describes endpoints, methods, and response options.

Good documentation has the users in mind. These are people with no knowledge of the API. Therefore, all information should use familiar words and phrases.

Documentation should include step-by-step examples and illustrations. These help you grasp the concepts quickly. Below is an example of well-structured documentation of the Twilio website.

Screenshot from the Twilio documentation

 

Documentation for an API should follow strong guidelines. A good example of an API documentation guide is Tom Johnson’s I prefer to be writing guide. It is a comprehensive guide on how to structure and write API documentation.

4. It has an Interactive Console

A good API has a console where you can test the API. Testing the endpoints of an API allows you to see if it meets your requirements.

Interactive consoles create a playing field for you to quickly test endpoints. This is an advantage as it means you don’t have to use other testing tools. Consoles are a good way to determine if the API suits your development needs.

The RapidAPI website has a good example of an interactive console that you can use to test API use cases.

Quick API Console

5. Provide Usage Options

The API documentation should make it clear if it is free or not. You should know which plans are free and which require payment. Avoid complicated pricing plans with many limitations.

Good APIs have multiple plans to serve different clients. Information should be open about usage fees and limits that come with each plan. fast API It has a clear pricing plan that includes basic free and paid business plans for its users.

API Express Pricing Plans

6. It has guides and tutorials

Tutorials help users understand how an API works. They teach a beginner how to use the API in a practical way. By following one, you need to understand what to expect when you interact with the API.

The goal of a tutorial is to guide you in producing the simplest possible output with the system. An API tutorial can be a response to a request made to the API. It shows you how to use a language or framework to get a certain answer.

Tutorials should include instructions on how to sign up for an account and generate API keys. Also, there should be instructions on how to submit a request and verify the response. A good tutorial will also have illustrations such as diagrams, infographics, and audiovisuals. These facilitate the understanding of the processes involved.

An example of an API with good illustrations is the AsyncAPI Initiative.

AsyncAPI Tutorials Page

The assumption is that if you make a call in a use case using a tutorial, you will succeed in making other calls. It’s a good idea to check if the tutorials are correct.

Why you should use this API guide

APIs create opportunities to interact with applications around the world. Identifying a good one will save you the time you would have spent creating a function from scratch.

APIs give you access to world-class applications with amazing features. To get a good API, you need to consider aspects of the API that go beyond endpoints and calling methods.

A good API is fast and well documented to inspire developers to interact with it. Follow the guidelines above and select the best API for your application.

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