One thing most people forget about APIs is that they slow down over time. When it’s brand-new and fresh into its integration, the new service may be very fast and responsive. But as the months pass and new complexities are introduced into the system, the API becomes more prone to delay and error. In some cases, a single user action can bog the service down and cause an expensive standstill. So the question is: what can developers do to overcome the challenge of slow APIs?
The answer lies in three things: forethought, preparation, and careful choices in the API design strategy. In order to improve the performance of your API, you must be well aware of what slows them down — and be responsive in your design and troubleshooting. Here are five starting points for bolstering your API’s performance and making sure your users get the most out of the service.
Think Ahead about the Things That Slow APIs Down
The first thing you should do is accept that API slowdowns are inevitable. You can also attribute the API’s laggard performance to particular things. Some factors that contribute to slowdowns are the following:
- What type of data the API returns
- How much data the API returns
- The rate of API calls
- How many filters and selectors the user action goes through
Mapping out the common causes of slowdowns and thinking of common scenarios will help you implement timely responses. So make sure to keep these factors in mind.
Build Your API for High Performance on a Comprehensive Design Tool
Another favor you should be doing for your API’s performance is doing all the necessary adjustments on a reliable API Design, Planning & Modeling Tool. True, there’s no way to make a bulletproof API. But you’ll have the closest thing to it if you plan, design, and test the product on a comprehensive toolset. Being able to prototype your API on a quality hosted tool may help you think ahead about potential problems.
Use a More Lightweight Format for Storing and Transporting API Data
The third strategy you can employ to improve your API’s performance is to switch to a better format for data storage and transport. If you need advice on which format to use, note that developers recommend choosing JSON over XML. The former is more lightweight, requires a lighter payload, and consumes less bandwidth. Opting for a format like JSON could result in faster performance for the API.
Take Advantage of Caches
If you haven’t made the most out of caches, now’s the time to do so. Caches allow APIs to serve responses without the system having to recalculate them all over again. Examples of caches you can use for your API to improve its performance are HTTP caches and application caches. The advantages of doing so include less load on backend, lower latency, and faster serving of data to your users.
Make Good Use of Asynchronous Methods
In synchronous programming, when a request comes in, everything halts until it gets back the expected return. But what if the request takes a long time to complete, and the rest of the application is unresponsive until the method returns? You can imagine how frustrated your user will be as a result. Thus, in certain cases, it would be good to explore asynchronous methods for your API. If you deploy asynchronous methods correctly, you’ll increase the number of concurrent requests that your API can take without waiting for that loop to close. That, in turn, increases the API’s throughput, or how much work it gets done in a unit of time.
When your API is fast and appears to get a lot of work done, you leave a good impression on your end-user. Make sure it lasts by considering these five tips. Use a ground-up approach to designing, testing, and implementing your API—that’s what will make the improvements easy to execute.