Who cares about API usability?

Do you? Does it really matter if an API is usable or not? If a platform is compelling enough, will you still develop for it even if the APIs are terrible?

Comments (4)

  1. Bobby Cannon says:

    I will do anything I can to use APIs that are clean and usable. I will also do all I can to not use other API that are just thrown together without any thought. 🙂

  2. Yes, I care. I might consider a platform with terrible APIs if I believe that the platform holder is committed to improving them long term or there is an infrastructure for third parties to provide better abstractions. Ultimately, the harder the APIs are to use the harder it will be – and the longer it will take – to create programs with compelling functionality. However, the quality assessment of APIs is somewhat subjective. Differing backgrounds and experiences create a different perception of an API's quality, i.e. one developer could be oblivious to the problems and frustrations of another developer using the same APIs simply due to their different experiences.

    There are additional factors to consider as well, such as YAPL (yet another programming language). For example, the Objective C APIs for iOS might be beautifully crafted but I need to learn Objective C first, and not just the basics but the skills, disciplines and best practices required to develop a robust application (note I'm not saying that Objective C is the only option for the iOS, I just want to highlight that there could be other factros influencing the attractiveness of a platform from a developer's point of view).

    I think a more apposite question is how do you determine whether or not your APIs are suitable for your target developers? This seems like an impossible question for truly general purpose APIs because the developer pool will be too varied, but there are sweet spots you can hit by focusing on the core scenarios. How do you verify that you've hit them?

  3. Stephen Ward says:

    isn't a good APi part of what makes a platform compelling?

  4. I posted a few weeks ago asking how important API usability is. At least three people believe that it