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Why are APIs Difficult to Learn and Use?

by martin on December 28th, 2010

Christopher Scaffidi wrote this ACM Crossroads article in 2006 about the usability of APIs. He presents four challenges of API design and presents various strategies to overcome these. The challenges are: 1) inadequate documentation, 2) insufficient orthogonality, 3) inappropriate abstractions, 4) incomplete assumptions. In summary, he states that three themes occur when designing a good API: make the problem smaller, use an approach that is only fast on average, and find an approximate solution.

From → Design

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An Application Programming Interface (API) provides a logical interface to a piece of software and hides its internal details. This website is dedicated to a book on designing APIs for C++ and includes articles and links on API development.


The book is accompanied by a source code package that contains many of the examples in the text. Download it for free.


Dr. Reddy has also published a computer graphics book called Level of Detail for 3D Graphics. Check it out too!.
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