Best Practices: Separating the Real Value From the Shiny Objects

By: Rob Zazueta

The API space is a moving target. Though there are standards bodies and hundreds of intelligent designers and developers creating fantastic systems following similar practices, true standards in RESTful APIs remain elusive. From my perspective, this may be the most exciting part about APIs.

I love getting into the API Craft Google Group and mixing it up with the talented developers who are implementing incredible API programs at their companies. I attended this year’s RESTFest with 50 other hard core API geeks to talk frankly and respectfully about how to deliver the best developer experiences and open my eyes to new ways to design APIs. Keeping up with blog posts, tweets and other information coming out of the API community on how to create great end points, design useful portals and write engaging documentation is one of the best parts of my role on the Strategy Services team.

But all of this information is overwhelming when all you want to do is build a great API program to grow your business.

In lieu of any actual standards, the Strategy Services team takes all of this information and distills it into sets of best practices. Though the API space is constantly changing, good API design and documentation is evergreen. It’s easy to get excited about some cutting edge API response format or jump in with some new way to interact with developers. But the shine of the new must be tempered against the two primary goals of any successful API program: To serve the needs of the business while delighting developers. 

A core piece of every strategy engagement is the bi-weekly meeting, followed by the 6 to 9 month health check. They’re our opportunities to connect with our customers to make sure their API program is on track to success, adhering to the roadmap we’ve all agreed upon. But it’s also a chance to listen to our customers, understand the challenges they’re facing and to apply the knowledge we’ve gained by seeing best practices in action in the marketplace. No two company strategies are exactly the same, so these best practices must often be customized to the specific needs of a given API program. These consistent check-ins ensure our customers are getting the latest and greatest information as it applies to their needs while making sure their business goals are being met. 

It’s a full time job to stay on top of something as dynamic as the API space, and my colleagues and I thrive on it. There’s nothing we love more than taking this knowledge and seeing the success that comes from our customers applying it to their real business needs. We’d love the opportunity to see it applied to your needs - so, please, drop us a line!