Gartner Research

A Guidance Framework for Creating Usable REST API Specifications

Published: 27 August 2019

Summary

REST APIs are a key part of modern application and integration architectures, and ease of use is a critical factor in the success of REST APIs. Application technical professionals should use this framework to design specifications for REST APIs that are easy to understand and use.

Included in Full Research

  • Prework: Define Your API’s Context
    • Understand the Business Purpose of Your API
    • Create Consumer Personas and Scenarios
  • Step 1: Establish API Design Guidelines
    • Start by Copying an Existing Set of Guidelines
    • Promote Your Guidelines, and Make Them Easily Accessible
    • Provide an Exception Process to Enable Intentional Variation
    • Keep Design Guidelines Up-to-Date to Ensure Relevance
  • Step 2: Engage API Consumer Developers
    • Create a Regular Cadence for Consumer Feedback
    • Use Low-Fidelity Prototypes to Get High-Level Feedback
    • Use Open-Ended Questions to Increase Your Understanding
  • Step 3: Design Resource Models
    • Start With the Consumer’s Perspective on the Domain
    • Identify Your Constraints
    • Create a Composite Resource Model
    • Design Security Into the Model
    • Iterate to Find the Right Granularity
    • Create Multiple APIs to Deal With Incompatible Use Cases
  • Step 4: Design Resource Representations
    • Discover What Data the Consumer Desires
    • Determine What Data Is Available
    • Compare Datasets to Identify Common Elements
    • Name Your Data Elements
    • Use Structure Inside Your Resources to Aid Readability
  • Step 5: Create API Specifications
    • Choose an API Design Tool to Increase Productivity
    • Decide Your Approach to Content Negotiation
    • Determine Your Versioning Strategy
    • Create Your Linking Strategy
  • Follow-Up: Implement and Publish APIs
  • Using REST for Every Interface
  • Creating Too Many Layers of APIs
  • Failing to Engage the Right Consumers
  • Limited Availability of Consumers
  • Skipping Review Steps to Begin Development
  • Strict Enforcement of API Design Guidelines
  • Failure to Follow API Design Guidelines
  • Related Guidance

Analysts:

Kevin Matheny

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