Creating a good API

Unlike writing end-user software, writing an API has two purposes. You must be able to have the developers understand how to use it fairly consistently, but you also must write it so that their end users get the performance that they need. In briefcase we have run into this problem in the form of a simple problem: to use multiple javascript files or not. The argument for using many files is that the code become easier to manage, you can create a file for each of the main focuses of your project. The downside and the argument against multiple files is that for each file you need another HTTP request to the server to get it. I believe that we have come up with a clever solution to this problem. The only files that we as the API creators are considering at the moment are the shared libraries, saving and loading, global menu, context menu, hotkey, infinite onload, etc. Our solution is to write them ourselves in multiple files, each section of the code gets its own little file to sit in and contemplate its existence. When we are done, or would like to release a new version the code is “compiled” into one file. Compiling will do two things. The first one is to simply squish all of the libraries into to one file. The second is to minify it, jquery uses a program called UglifyJS but more research definitely needs to be done.

– Asher


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