API Checklist: 6 Keys to Success

APIs should be designed with a clear understanding of goals and by following a simple, meaningful and easy-to-understand structure.


Nowadays, all applications support and run on Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. APIs are vital for seamless software integration and communication between applications.  API Management is the process of building, publishing, securing, observing, scaling, versioning and retiring APIs. It is highly essential to be equipped in this API world by following the best API management practices, which are discussed below.

API Design and Publication

APIs should be designed with a clear understanding of goals and by following a simple, meaningful and easy-to-understand structure.

Design:  APIs should follow standards such as REST and GraphQL. Use established formats such as JSON or XML for request and response structures. Follow a similar pattern for Status codes, error messages, and formats across the product. To improve API performance and efficiently use infrastructure resources, sorting and filtering capabilities can be implemented in APIs.

Documentation portal: Having an interactive API Documentation portal to know the structure and to try out the APIs will be an even more significant advantage.

API Security

APIs should be designed with security in mind, and the following categories need special consideration when developing and releasing an API.

Authentication: The first and foremost thing for any API is to implement secure authentication mechanisms like API tokens and OAuth to verify identities. Also, add restrictions such that only authorized parties can access the API resources. The API keys should be created for the scopes needed based on their usage, must have an expiry timeline and can be deactivated after a long period of no usage.

Threat identification:  Conduct Periodical security audits and vulnerability testing to identify vulnerabilities in API. Put in place Input Validation and Output encoding techniques to protect from injection and cross-site scripting attacks. Use API firewalls and an Intrusion detection system to detect and prevent suspicious activities, blocking any unauthorized actions.

API Scalability

Scalability of the APIs is crucial when the number of users and API requests increases drastically at a time. Otherwise, it will result in slow response time and increased latency which will lead to poor user experience. It can be handled by applying caching mechanisms and load-balancing techniques and by using scalable infrastructure. Furthermore, Asynchronous processing enables API to offload resource-intensive tasks, optimizing request handling.

API Reliability

For a robust API ecosystem, API reliability is an important factor, as customer satisfaction depends on the Availability, Responsiveness and Consistency of the APIs.

Outages and Downtimes: Implement Outage detection processes that will alert the authorities and provide an appropriate error message to users in case of any unexpected outages. Zero downtime should be targeted with the help of adopting failover mechanisms.

Rate Limiting: Rate Limits should be established for all API endpoints. This will prevent the servers from being overloaded with user requests, thereby maintaining availability.

Versioning: As APIs evolve, Design a proper API versioning framework that should not break existing integrations and plan APIs to be backward-compatible. Make proper announcements to users before deprecating APIs and give them enough time to adopt newer versions.

API Observability

API Observability helps to gain insights and understand the performance and usage of APIs in real-time by continuously monitoring the factors such as response time, error rates and latency.

Logging: Capturing detailed information about API calls in the logs will be beneficial for troubleshooting and auditing purposes.

Alerts: Set up Alerting mechanisms that can be triggered for unplanned events such as traffic surges, high error rates, etc. It helps the product team to handle them straight away.

Analytics: Monitor API analytics information such as trends and utilization patterns, as it is helpful to make data-driven decisions.

API Dashboards: Visualizing these observability data in the form of dashboards will provide an extensive overview of API performance and health.

API Privacy

To safeguard personal information and to maintain the trust of API Consumers, it is essential to concentrate on the privacy aspects of API.

Expose only needed data:  Data Minimization should be emphasized to determine the minimum amount of personal data needed for API request handling as well as to be exposed in responses.

User Consent Management: Another key point is User Consent Management which can be implemented by getting user consent for data processing activities happening via the API.

Handling User Data: Data retention periods should be well defined to tell the users how long their API-related data will be stored in our systems.

Rules and regulations: Furthermore, Conduct Privacy Impact Assessment(PIA) to address privacy risks and APIs should strictly adhere to the rules defined in privacy regulations such as GDPA, CCPA or HIPAA

By prioritizing these aspects, organizations can safeguard user data, optimize API design and deployment, gain insights through observability, ensure scalability, protect against threats, and deliver a reliable API experience, ultimately driving success in the digital landscape.

Eswari Jayakumar is a senior software developer having 6+ years of experience in Rest API development and third-party product integrations. She is working in Python, Javascript and Java programming languages and cloud technologies. Through technical writing, Eswari shares her developer journey on various interesting concepts.