How many methods are in API?

May 7, 2024 ยท 2 min read

When building or using an Application Programming Interface (API), one important consideration is the number of methods it contains. This directly impacts the functionality and complexity of the API. But how exactly should method count be evaluated? Here are some key points:

What is a Method in API Context

First, let's define what constitutes a method. In API design, a method typically refers to an endpoint that enables accessing or manipulating data and resources. For example:

GET /users
POST /users
GET /users/123
PUT /users/123
DELETE /users/123

Each of these endpoints would count as a separate method. The unique URI path and HTTP verb combination delineates the methods.

Why Method Count Matters

The number of methods relates directly to scope and capabilities of an API. More methods indicate wider functional coverage and more options for clients. However, too many convoluted methods can overwhelm developers and make the API harder to use.

As a rule of thumb, simpler and more focused APIs tend to be easier for clients to adopt. Though simpler isn't always better if key functionality is missing. Finding the right balance is key.

Typical Range

For internal APIs, method count can vary wildly based on the specific system and integration requirements. But for public APIs aimed at third-party developers, some reasonable benchmarks:

  • Simple API - Around 5-15 methods
  • Average API - Up to 50 methods
  • Complex API - Over 100 methods
  • There are certainly exceptions on both ends, but this provides a rough estimate.

    Considering Use Context

    Rather than just the raw number alone, it's also important to consider the context:

  • Is it a broad horizontal API or targeted niche API? Specialized APIs may rightly have less methods.
  • Is it for a complex domain? Some problem spaces intrinsically require more methods.
  • Is it an enterprise monolithic API or lightweight microservice? Scope differs.
  • Does the method count align to capabilities? Covering the needed capabilities for the domain and use case is what matters most.
  • Evaluating these factors helps put method count in perspective.

    Tracking Over Time

    Looking at method count growth over versions also provides useful signal on API evolution and "code health". Rapid unfettered growth might indicate lack of governance and architectural issues. Gradual controlled growth is more sustainable.


    Method count serves as a useful yardstick for API design decisions, but should be applied with nuance rather than as a blunt rule. As with many things in technology, reasonable balance based on use context is the right path.

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