Building Reusable API Component Libraries for Your Organization

Nauman Ali
by Nauman Ali on March 17, 2023 6 min read

Component Libraries allows API creators and design teams to maintain consistency and promote reuse across API projects. These libraries enable you to create, share, and collaborate on JSON schema models, ensuring a more efficient API design process.

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Why use Component Libraries?

  1. Consistency: By creating and sharing JSON schema models across API projects, you can ensure a consistent approach to API design, making it easier to maintain and update APIs as needed.
  2. Reusability: Instead of recreating the same models for each API project, your team can save time and effort by reusing the shared models in Component Libraries.
  3. Collaboration: Component Libraries encourage collaboration between team members, allowing for more efficient design and better communication.

What to add to a Component Library?

When deciding which models to add to your Component Libraries, it’s essential to consider their reusability and relevance to multiple API projects. Here are some examples of the types of models that are ideal for inclusion in Component Libraries:

  1. Common data structures: These include widely used data structures such as addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and dates. By creating a standardized schema for these structures, you can ensure consistent data handling across your APIs.

    addresses screenshot

  2. Authentication and authorization models: Many APIs require authentication and authorization mechanisms like OAuth tokens, API keys, or JWTs. By including these models in your Component Libraries, you can streamline the implementation of these mechanisms across your APIs.

    Screenshot 2023-03-16 at 5.00.45 AM

  3. Pagination models: APIs that return large datasets often use pagination to limit the amount of data returned in a single response. Standardizing pagination models can help ensure that your APIs handle pagination consistently.

    pagination screeshot

  4. Error objects: APIs often return error objects when a request cannot be processed. Creating a standardized error object model can help make error handling more consistent and predictable across your APIs.

    error screenshot

  5. Metadata models: Many APIs return metadata alongside the primary response data, such as timestamps, version information, or usage limits. By including these metadata models in your Component Libraries, you can ensure that metadata is consistently formatted and communicated across your APIs.

    timestamp screenshot

  6. Standard response formats: Defining standard response formats, such as success, failure, or partial responses, can help improve the consistency of your APIs’ behavior and make them easier to consume by clients.

    success response screenshot

  7. Domain-specific models: If your organization has specific domains or industry verticals, you can create models that represent the unique data structures, entities, or concepts relevant to those domains. These domain-specific models can help promote reuse and consistency within those specific areas.

    product screenshot

  8. Validation models: Many APIs require validation of input data, such as checking for required fields, data types, or value ranges. By creating standardized validation models, you can simplify and streamline the validation process across your APIs.

    email validation screenshot

Best Practices for Component Libraries

  1. Establish company-wide libraries: Create a centralized library containing models that are applicable to the entire organization. This library should contain core models that are relevant across multiple domains and teams.
  2. Create team or domain-specific libraries: For models that are specific to a certain team or domain, create separate libraries to manage these components. This approach allows teams to maintain their own libraries without cluttering the company-wide library. If there are models you can use from the company-wide libraries in domain-specific libraries, do that.
  3. Documentation: Ensure that each model in the library is well-documented, with clear descriptions and examples. This will help team members understand the purpose and usage of each model.

Using a Standard?

If you follow a particular standard like JSON:API, Incorporating standard models helps promote consistency and ensures compliance with best practices across your API projects.

JSON:API screenshot

This, combined with a style guide for the format, can really go a long way in the adoption of the standard across the company.

Best practices for incorporating standard models from specifications like JSON:API:

  1. Understand the standard: Familiarize yourself with the JSON:API specification to ensure that you fully understand the requirements, concepts, and structures defined by the standard. This will help you create compliant and consistent models for your Component Library.
  2. Adapt standard models to your needs: While it’s essential to adhere to the standard, you may need to modify or extend the models to fit your specific use cases or domain requirements. Ensure that any modifications still comply with the standard’s principles.
  3. Document your models: Provide clear and concise documentation for each model in your Component Library, including descriptions, usage examples, and any modifications or extensions you’ve made to the standard models. This will help your team understand and adopt the models effectively.
  4. Train your team: Educate your team members on the JSON:API standard, its benefits, and how to use the models from the Component Library in their API projects. This will help ensure consistent implementation across your organization.
  5. Keep up-to-date with the standard: As standards evolve and new versions are released, update your Component Library models to reflect any changes or improvements to the specification. This ensures ongoing compliance and enables your team to take advantage of new features or best practices.

Socializing Component Libraries

  1. Internal promotion: Communicate the benefits and availability of Component Libraries to all stakeholders within the company. Encourage teams to adopt these libraries for their API projects to promote consistency and collaboration.
  2. Training and support: Provide training sessions, workshops, or webinars on how to use and contribute to Component Libraries. Offer ongoing support to help teams get started and address any questions or concerns.
  3. Regular updates: Keep teams informed about updates to Component Libraries, new models, and best practices. Share success stories and lessons learned to motivate and inspire others. Stoplight Component Libraries give notifications whenever updates are available.

    customer screenshot

  4. Feedback and improvement: Encourage feedback from teams using Component Libraries, and continuously iterate on the process to make it more efficient and user-friendly.

Component Libraries in Stoplight provide a powerful solution for API creators and design teams to maintain consistency, promote reuse, and encourage collaboration. By following the best practices outlined in this post, you can optimize the use of Component Libraries, ensuring a more efficient and effective API design process across your organization.

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