If the term “API Specification” seems intimidating for newbie developers, take comfort in the fact that the idea is not necessarily an unfamiliar one. Simply think of an elaborate toy car or toy robot model that comes with instructions for assembly, as well as individual parts. A well-written, well-designed blueprint for one of these will allow you to custom-build a model that looks and works exactly how it’s meant to. That also makes it a joy to do extra modification work, like painting parts or adding decals, to get the model to your liking.
In truth, the principle behind OpenAPI Specification, which is the API industry’s most popular specification format, is the same. OpenAPI Specification is meant to act as a blueprint for describing REST APIs, or APIs that follow the representational state transfer style of software architecture. Since its first iteration as Swagger, for the online dictionary service Wordnik, OpenAPI Specification has become the industry standard for similarly sophisticated web services. And that’s for good reason, as it has some special qualities that other API specification formats do not. Using this specification can help you design a REST API of top caliber, which in turn keeps your end users satisfied.
Here’s why you should actively use OpenAPI Specification for your API design, courtesy of the folks behind the powerful Stoplight OpenAPI editor. Read below to learn about this adaptable specification format and how it’ll improve the design work on your forthcoming REST API project.
It’s Both Human-Readable and Machine-Readable
The first major selling point of OpenAPI Specification is its compatibility. OpenAPI Specification is a format that’s both machine-readable (structured enough for a computer to read) and human-readable (interpretable by human users). Even without access to its source code, both human users and the machines at their disposal can decipher how the API is meant to work. They can also use OpenAPI Specification to determine what the API’s current range of abilities is. That’s a definite plus, as excellent design work done by humans and corollary work done by machines, like auto-generating code, is possible through OpenAPI Specification.
It’s the Specification of Choice for the World’s Top API Mindshare
One important thing to note about adopting an API specification is that you won’t be the only one using it. It’s good to be involved in a community of users who can help you learn how to use the technology. Ultimately, the members of such a community will motivate you to do even better design work on your REST API. That’s definitely the case for the OpenAPI community, which houses some of the API industry’s most brilliant minds and most supportive peers. Your fellow OpenAPI developers can introduce you to new OpenAPI-related tools and show you the ropes on building excellent REST APIs using OpenAPI Specification.
It Gets Easier to Work with Time
It’s true that using OpenAPI Specification the first few times may be a little difficult. The format has a bit of a learning curve, especially for newbie developers. But few argue about it for very long, and they eventually get into the rhythm of coding their REST API with the format. What matters most is that OpenAPI Specification will provide you with a consistent, dependable system for describing APIs. Once you’ve gotten familiar enough with it, you’ll have a baseline for doing work on all types of REST API.
It Makes API Mocking and API Testing Efforts Twice as Efficient
Coding work isn’t the only task that OpenAPI Specification can help you with. It’s also great for evaluating your REST API’s performance before it hits the market, particularly for tasks like mocking and testing. Instead of creating new mocks from scratch, you may be able to use your OpenAPI editor to auto-generate mock responses or mock API servers. The same applies for auto-generating API tests—you can immediately come up with tests that actually match what’s stipulated in the API contract. You’ll be able to survey your REST API thoroughly and make the necessary adjustments. Best of all, this could take you half the time that it would have if you’d set up your own mocks or tests.
It Streamlines the Work of Making Awesome API Docs
One of the most popular uses for OpenAPI Specification is compiling API documentation, or reference materials that show consumers how to use the API. Your OpenAPI editor may be able to auto-generate parts of your API documentation, like its metadata, with exceptional speed and accuracy. It will save you a lot of trouble in putting reliable documentation together, and you’ll instantly have something good to show for your new product.
Conclusion: A Must-Have Piece of Technology for Developing REST APIs
For a greater guarantee of purposeful, consistent, and easily replicable design work on your REST API, consider adopting OpenAPI Specification. The technology continues to be relevant today, and will likely serve as the backbone for the next generation of model REST APIs. Count your project as OpenAPI’s next big success story and try out the specification for your upcoming API work.
Author Bio: Monica Mendoza is a content writer and marketing professional based in Manila, Philippines. She spends a lot of time studying how technology continues to transform lifestyles and communities. Outside the office, she keeps herself busy by staying up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and reading about the newest gadgets out on the market.