Top 10 API Worst Practices

Adam DuVander, August 3rd, 2012

We try to stay positive at ProgrammableWeb. We’ve talked a lot about the keys to a great API, but not so much about what some of the lesser APIs do. And, with a directory of over 6,000 APIs, you’d better believe we’ve seen some worst practices.

  • Poor error handling
  • REST APIs that ignore HTTP rules
  • Exposing your raw underlying data model
  • Security complexity
  • Unexpected and undocumented releases
  • Poor developer experience
  • Expect an MVC framework “gives” you a great API
  • Assume if you build it they will come
  • Inadequate support
  • Poor documentation

Many of these issues came up in the developer survey that said Facebook causes the most developer pain.

For other tips on the positive side, see what makes a great API.

Photo by Richard Riley

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4 Responses to “Top 10 API Worst Practices”

August 3rd, 2012
at 10:37 am
Comment by: John Sheehan

Reinventing authentication!

August 3rd, 2012
at 10:38 am
Comment by: John Sheehan

I suppose that falls under ‘Security complexity’

August 5th, 2012
at 7:00 pm
Comment by: Link Roundup – August 5, 2012 | Enterprise Information Management in the 21st Century

[...] An ever-evolving list of worldwide stores of Linked Open Data, primarily from governments… Top 10 API Worst Practices (Programmable Web) – How to ensure that a newly-published API is not used… Five Keys [...]

August 6th, 2012
at 6:04 pm
Comment by: 10 Tech Stories To Read This Week – August 7 Edition » iRomin

[...] API Worst Practices: You probably know about the best practices for an API but what about the worst ones? This article gives you the list. [...]

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John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.