API Design is a Contact Sport

Posted by steve | Apple Software and Hardware | Tuesday 8 July 2014 2:31 pm

I was listening to one of the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) 2014 videos recently. The topic was designing good APIs and frameworks. The presenter used the phrase “API Design is a Contact Sport” and I loved it.

What the presenter was talking about is that during the API development stage the internal email lists discussed in minute details all portions of the API before it gets locked down and published. The idea that the right time to express passion about method names and even argument names for proposed APIs in an all out push back and forth between team members is excellent. Once the API gets published you will need to support it for possibly years to come. Even as you enhance APIs in the future the whole need for backwards compatibility, or at least ensuring the user’s apps do not “explode and crash” is critical.

I love the notion of thinking of API design as wrestling the details out.

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