17 Apr 2023
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Doomed API Design: A Tragicomic Journey

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


Once upon a time, in the hallowed halls of academia, where the future API architects and luminaries of our digital world were nurtured, a series of utterly calamitous and, dare I say, amusing design practices were born. It is said that laughter is the best medicine, so let us embark on a jovial journey, exploring the buffoonery of some ill-fated API design practices that, if not for their comical nature, might have left us in tears.

The Incomprehensible Riddle: Inscrutable Endpoints

Like a well-designed labyrinth, an API should guide its users to their desired destination. Yet, some API designers revel in befuddling their users by crafting enigmatic endpoints reminiscent of the sphinx's riddles. These inscrutable endpoints leave developers scratching their heads, wondering whether they are interacting with an API or decoding ancient hieroglyphs. It's a delightful game of chance, as even the most perspicacious developers may fail to discern the purpose of such abstruse endpoints.

The Farcical Faux Pas: Inconsistent Naming Conventions

In the grand theatre of API design, one must appreciate the farcical nature of inconsistent naming conventions. With the stage set for confusion and miscommunication, developers must navigate a minefield of camelCase, snake_case, and PascalCase, stumbling through the ensuing chaos like a slapstick comedy routine. The result is a cacophony of code, an unintentional homage to the absurdity of the human condition.

The Ludicrous Labyrinth: Nested-Resource Overload

In the pursuit of complexity, some API designers craft intricate structures of nested resources, evoking the spirit of M.C. Escher's mind-bending illustrations. With each successive layer of nesting, developers are drawn deeper into the abyss of confusion as they grapple with the vertiginous complexity of resource hierarchies. It's a rib-tickling exercise in futility as developers untangle the Gordian knot, only to realize that simplicity was the key all along.

The Comical Conundrum: Overzealous Versioning

API versioning, when approached with moderation, is a laudable practice, ensuring consumer compatibility and stability. However, some API designers take this practice to new, hilarious heights, unleashing a torrent of versions that would make even the most ardent collector of comic book editions dizzy. This cacophony of versions leaves developers perpetually updating their code, trapped in a Sisyphean struggle against the inexorable march of progress.

The Absurd Adventure: Inadequate Documentation

To truly appreciate the tragicomic nature of doomed API design practices, one must venture into the realm of inadequate documentation. This realm, where the fog of obscurity obscures the guiding light of knowledge, is a veritable playground for the masochistic developer. Bereft of meaningful guidance, developers are left to fumble in the dark, grasping at straws as they try to discern the arcane workings of the API. It's a Kafkaesque experience, complete with the unsettling sense that the answers lie beyond one's grasp.

The Whimsical Whirlpool: Overloading HTTP Methods

To complete our journey through the absurdity of doomed API design practices, let us examine the whimsical whirlpool of overloading HTTP methods. In this fantastical world, API designers wield the power of HTTP methods like a whimsical sorcerer, bending the fabric of convention to their will. GET methods perform DELETE operations, POST methods are used for idempotent requests, and PUT methods create resources, all with a gleeful disregard for established norms. The result is a swirling maelstrom of confusion, as developers struggle to keep their heads above water in the tumultuous sea of unconventional practices.

The Hysterical Hodgepodge: Confounding Error Messages

No tragicomedy would be complete without the spectacle of confounding error messages. In this scenario, API designers craft responses as cryptic as the prophecies of the Delphic Oracle. These error messages provide little context or guidance, leaving developers to embark on a quixotic quest for meaning. As they wrestle with the enigmatic responses, developers may find solace in the notion that they are participating in an absurdist performance, wherein they are both the audience and the protagonist.

The Comedic Catastrophe: Ignoring Pagination

Imagine an API that returns all records in a single response, conjuring images of an infinite scroll through a boundless data set. As developers attempt to process the data deluge, their applications grind to a halt, buckling under the weight of an unending stream of records. It's a scene worthy of a Buster Keaton film, as developers are left reeling from the onslaught of information. This comedic catastrophe results from ignoring pagination, a cardinal sin in API design.

The Jocular Jumble: Misuse of Status Codes

In doomed API design practices, the misuse of status codes is a veritable smorgasbord of comedy. API designers treat status codes like a game of musical chairs, randomly assigning them and leaving developers to decipher their true meaning. As 404 errors are repurposed to indicate success and 200 responses signal abject failure, developers may feel they have wandered into a Lewis Carroll-inspired fever dream.

The Laughable Legerdemain: Neglecting Security

Finally, we arrive at the pièce de résistance: the laughable legerdemain of neglecting security. API designers weave an intricate tapestry of vulnerabilities in this grand finale, creating a hacker's paradise where sensitive data is ripe for the picking. It's a thrilling game of cat and mouse as developers scramble to patch the myriad security holes while nefarious actors exploit them for their gain.


The tragicomic world of doomed API design practices is a testament to the boundless creativity of the human spirit. As we laugh at the folly of these misguided endeavors, let us also appreciate the lessons they provide, guiding us toward a brighter future of elegant, intuitive, and secure API design.

Tyrone Showers