Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Burk on Books - Practical API Design

Practical API Design: Confessions of a Java Framework Architect

Author: Jaroslav Tulach

Published by: Apress on July, 2008

ISBN: 1430209739

If you write code then you are designing APIs and this book is for you.

Jaroslav Tulach, is the founder and initial architect of NetBeans and in this book he shares with us the lessons he learned during ten years of designing APIs that are used by developers around the world.

If others use your APIs, then the lessons found here are worth far more than the price of the book and the time it takes to read and digest it. Do yourself, and your users, a favor and start studying it today. And if others don’t use your APIs, then it might be that you need this book even more.

“Practical API Design” is divided into three parts: In part one, Jaroslav describes the theories underlying his approach to API design and his reasons for writing “another design book.” This section is reasonably brief and introduces the main concepts underpinning the rest of the book. In part two Jaroslav draws on his decade of experience and expounds on what works and what to avoid when designing frameworks and APIs for public consumption. Part three is where the rubber meets the road and Jaroslav shows how the theories and ideas from part one can be applied in daily life to achieve the practical application of the rules as described in part two.

The information in this book is relevant to every developer, though I will admit that some probably need it more than others. If you write code, you’re creating APIs - even if you’re the only one using them. If you’re creating APIs then knowing how to create and evolve those APIs benefits you and anyone who depends on those APIs to get things done.

For me, the bottom line on this book is that anyone who writes code winds up creating APIs, so it makes sense to learn how to create, evolve, and maintain them without breaking any code that already uses them.

There are some nice resources out there for anyone interested in learning more about this book. Here are just a few:

Jaroslav has created a website at “http://wiki.apidesign.org/wiki/Main_Page” with the intent of building a community around the book and the ideas he’s expressed in it.

Download chapter 1 from Apress at “http://www.apress.com/book/view/9781430209737”.

Check out InfoQ's interview with Jaroslav Tulach at “http://www.infoq.com/articles/tulach-practical-api-design”. In it there's a link to download chapter 3.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book, I have a more detailed review on DZone (and I’m told they may be giving away a copy) at http://books.dzone.com/reviews/practical-api-design.

Happy reading!

Burk Hufnagel

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