The state of API design in 2023

Posted by
Nate McGuire in Development category


As software development continues to advance, APIs have become a crucial component in modern applications. APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, allow different software systems to communicate and share data efficiently. In this blog post, we’ll explore the main API technologies, delve into business capability design, discuss popular API development strategies, and look at the future of API design.

Main API Technologies

There are several API technologies available today, with the most popular being GraphQL, REST, and gRPC. When choosing the right API technology for your project, factors such as your application’s requirements, team expertise, and existing infrastructure should be taken into consideration. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision.

Business Capability Design

Business capability design plays a vital role in API development. By aligning your APIs with your organization’s goals and requirements, you can ensure that the APIs you create are both functional and valuable to your business. This approach helps create a solid foundation for your API design, ensuring it meets the needs of your organization and promotes long-term success.

API Development Strategies

There are two main strategies when it comes to API development: contract-first and code-first. The contract-first approach involves defining the API specification before writing any code, while the code-first approach focuses on writing the code and then generating the API specification from the codebase. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and the choice often depends on factors such as team preferences and project requirements.

Contract-first approach:


  • Provides a clear understanding of the API’s functionality and requirements before implementation begins
  • Encourages collaboration and communication between different teams (frontend, backend, etc.)
  • Can lead to a more consistent API design, as the specification serves as a single source of truth


  • Can be time-consuming to create a detailed specification before writing any code
  • May require additional tools or platforms to create and manage the specification
  • Changes in requirements may lead to frequent updates in the specification, which can be challenging to manage

Code-first approach:


  • Allows for rapid development and iteration, as developers can start writing code immediately
  • Code changes can be more easily reflected in the API specification through automated generation
  • Can be more flexible and adaptable to changing requirements


  • Generated API specifications may not be as accurate or detailed as those created with a contract-first approach
  • Can lead to inconsistencies in the API design if developers do not follow established guidelines and best practices
  • May require additional effort to ensure proper documentation and testing, as the focus is primarily on writing the code

Developer Experience and Tooling

Improving the developer experience in building and consuming APIs is essential for the overall success of your API project. Ensuring consistency in API design and implementation can help prevent errors, reduce maintenance overhead, and promote better collaboration among your development team. Additionally, investing in proper testing and documentation can significantly improve the developer experience and lead to more reliable and maintainable APIs.

Why is developer experience important when making APIs?

  1. Adoption: A well-designed API with a positive developer experience encourages developers to adopt and integrate it into their applications. This drives usage, popularity, and ultimately, the success of your API.
  2. Productivity: A good developer experience allows developers to understand, consume, and implement the API quickly and efficiently. This boosts productivity, as developers can focus on building features rather than deciphering complex or poorly-designed APIs.
  3. Error reduction: A well-designed API with clear documentation and consistent design patterns reduces the likelihood of errors and misunderstandings. This leads to more stable and reliable applications built on top of your API.
  4. Maintainability: APIs with good developer experience tend to be easier to maintain and update. Clear documentation, consistent design, and robust testing make it easier to identify and address issues, ensuring the API’s long-term stability and success.
  5. Collaboration: A positive developer experience fosters better collaboration among team members working with the API. It becomes easier to share knowledge, troubleshoot issues, and coordinate updates, leading to a more cohesive and efficient development process.
  6. Reputation: Offering a great developer experience reflects positively on your organization or project. It demonstrates a commitment to quality, usability, and developer satisfaction, which can attract more users, partners, and even potential employees.

In summary, developer experience is a vital aspect of API design because it directly influences adoption, productivity, maintainability, collaboration, and reputation. By prioritizing the developer experience, you can ensure that your API is more successful, reliable, and widely used in the long run.

Future of API Design

As the field of API design continues to evolve, we can expect to see more focus on developer experience, testing, and documentation. Additionally, technologies like GraphQL have the potential to impact the API landscape significantly, offering new ways to build and consume APIs. Staying current with these trends and advancements will be essential for developers and organizations alike.


In conclusion, selecting the right API technology and design approach is critical to the success of your API project. As API design practices and tooling continue to evolve, it’s essential to stay informed and adapt to new methodologies and technologies. By keeping the developer experience, testing, and documentation at the forefront of your API design efforts, you’ll be well-equipped to create APIs that deliver value to your organization and stand the test of time.

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