August 09, 2007

How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters

A very interesting Google talk about designing a good API. This may not seem like a scalability issue, but if you really want to host a horizontally scalable system you need to have a good scalable API design to go with it.
Every day around the world, software developers spend much of their time working with a ... all variety of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Some are integral to the core platform, some provide access to widely distributed frameworks, and some are written in-house for use by a few developers. Nearly all programmers occasionally function as API designers, whether they know it or not. A well-designed API can be a great asset to the organization that wrote it and to all who use it. Good APIs increase the pleasure and productivity of the developers who use them, the quality of the software they produce, and ultimately, the corporate bottom line. Conversely, poorly written APIs are a constant thorn in the developer's side, and have been known to harm the bottom line to the point of bankruptcy. Given the importance of good API design, surprisingly little has been written on the subject. In this talk, I'll attempt to help you recognize good and bad APIs and I'll offer specific suggestions for writing good ones.

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