What is an API Prototype?

Learn about the advantages and limitations of API prototyping.


A prototype is a multidimensional model. These models can be the source material or guide for the final full-sized object we’re creating. The word “prototype” is derived from Greek and translates to “original,” “first,” or “impression.” All of these words speak to the notion of creating a prototype first to help us work out the details on a small scale. And that’s important for APIs too. Prototypes are valuable because they allow us to turn our sketches into something more substantial without taking on too much time and added expense. They also let us actually practice our design and see it in detail from multiple angles. In essence, prototypes take the surprise out of building our final product.

Making a toile

An excellent example of how prototyping can be valuable is found in the garment-making practice of creating fabric known as toile or muslin to test a sewing pattern before making the final garment. Briefly imagine that we are accomplished dressmakers and have been handed a complex design that we’ll use to create an elaborate gown or suit for a special event, such as a movie premiere or a start-up’s initial public offering (IPO) celebration. These outfits are usually created out of rare and expensive fabric, and it’s probably not a good idea to make our first version of the garment using the final, expensive materials.

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