Dieter RAMs: the ten principles of good API design

A presentation at by Leigh Brenecki

In the late 1970s, industrial designer Dieter Rams wrote his “ten principles of good design”, a set of aphorisms outlining how he saw his work. Rams and his ten principles have been hugely influential on design to this day, and that influence extends far beyond Rams’ realm of shelving systems, wristwatches and FM radios—Apple chief designer Jony Ive cites him as an influence, and articles applying the principles to web or UI design are a dime a dozen.

But we as developers are designers too, whether we like it or not, and not just on those occasions where we build something that faces an “end user”. Our fellow developers are also our users, and the APIs and the developer tools that we build are products that are designed, intentionally or otherwise.

In this talk, we’ll use Rams’ ten principles to explore good design of APIs and developer tools, and the things we should keep in our minds to build APIs and developer tools that are designed for our peers to use.


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