I'm working on a reusable client library to abstract a REST endpoint that we use in many of our in-house applications. It is actually split into 3 APIs, and certain endpoints/resources require different types of authentication (OAuth, JWT, and OAuth + additional BASIC). So to simplify all of that, I'd like to JAR up a client library and just have the app that's using it provide its credentials without having to worry about the HTTP calls.

How I would like the client API to work is something like the following:

OAuthClient apiClient = APICLient.getOAuthClient(oauth, credentials);
// or OAuthClient apiClient = new OAuthClient(oauth, credentials), but see below 
JWTClient apiClient = APIClient.getJWTClient(jwt, credentials);
AdminClient apiClient = APIClient.getAdminClient(oauth, and, basic, credentials);

I would prefer to use factory methods to instantiate the client based on the advantages listed in the first few items in the first chapter of Effective Java (name of method makes clear the arguments needed, not allowing creation of multiples, returning a superclass but instantiating a subclass), but that's not really my question.

The trickier part is that I have a ton of resources/endpoints that I need to abstract, so I would like to use an interface for each, rather than have the client class implement every single method. Interfaces would be like so:

    searchCustomers(SearchQuery searchQuery) : List<Customer>
    getCustomer(int customerId) : Customer
    updateCustomer(Customer customer) : void
    removeCustomer(Customer customer) : void

    searchOrders(SearchQuery searchQuery) : List<Order>
    getOrder(int orderId) : Order
    etc... etc...

...as opposed to...


The resources would, however, require an instance of an APIClient to keep track of authentication tokens and expiration, so that renewal and auth headers can all happen in the background after initial setup. I think that's better than explicitly getting a token and having to pass it with every resource's method call as an argument. So I would like for the library user to get an instance of the interface through the client they created, like so:

CustomerResource cr = apiClient.createCustomerResource();

I'm struggling here because it feels like these XXXResource classes should be interfaces, but I don't want to have things like

interface CustomerResource
public class CustomerResourceImpl

Because there's some code smell there. I could also just have my concrete APIClient classes implement all the resources and return this but then I've got a God class which is also an anti-pattern. Am I overthinking this, and should the resource classes just be concrete? It seems strange to have every one of them have the same constructor and see a bunch of these calls in the code:

CustomerResource cr = new CustomerResource(apiClient);
OrderResource or = new OrderResource(apiClient);

Is there a good design pattern for this situation that I'm overlooking?

2 Answers 2


An alternative would be to actually model the problem domain of the remote API and implement it using your remote call protocols (HTTP or whatever).

What I mean is, don't reveal that the user is working with resources and http calls, design the library "normally" as if you would implement it locally. For example: don't do CustomerResource, do:

public interface Customer {
    void remove();

    ... etc ...

Or if you feel like indicating that this takes a while (and enable async composition):

public interface Customer {
    CompletableFuture<Void> remove();

    ... etc ...

Also, when processing list of things, you should normally prepare to paginate or handle large responses somehow. One way to do this is have an interface like this:

public interface Orders {
    void search(SearchQuery query, Consumer<Order> orderHandler);

    ... etc ...

Don't just "return" a list of things, because you take away control from your library and put it in the unsure hands of users. This way, you can implement your Orders simply by one request-response, or later expand it to do pagination as well if needed.

Again, if you feel fancy, you can use Stream objects, like this:

public interface Orders {
    Stream<Order> search(SearchQuery query);

    ... etc ...

Stream objects still preserve control, but are a bit more complicated unfortunately, at least in Java.

That is just some ideas.

  • I like this approach better than creating dumb objects with only getters and setters, but what's the approach for the user getting an instance of these interfaces? The user/app that is leveraging this library still needs to provide the credentials to access the REST endpoint, so I can't hide that part. It won't be a universal set of credentials that the library maintains. My main problem then is how to model the entry point into this API. Is the idea something like new Client(credentials), and then use that Client instance to do something like Orders orders = client.orders()? Commented May 1, 2019 at 21:00
  • I like this approach in general (and upvoted). However, if the users are very familiar with REST APIs, it may just confuse them by being "too different". So does depend upon the target audience.
    – user949300
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 18:11

I think you captured the trade-offs pretty well. To make a good decision, we need to look into why we follow (anti)patterns like god class and separation of concerns.

Your API client is a proxy, it doesn't do any work on it's own, it forwards the calls to another entity for processing. It's own concerns are centered around a REST API. Hence the reasons we don't like god classes don't all apply, as a god class usually carries implementation. It's still not great, the proxy will have knowledge of a lot of classes, see a high rate of churn, merge conflicts etc.

The alternative also burdens the developer with instantiating and managing all these API objects. The first thing your client developer is probably going to do is create a management class to handle the repetitive creation of API objects and their authentication :)

You could consider a factory class that receives the credentials once in the constructor and then hands out ICustomerManager, IOrderManager etc.

In COM we had QueryInterface where you could ask a class for an interface to another class. You could implement that so the caller could get another interface with the authentication already set up. I never liked this approach though since you have to know which other interfaces a class is hiding.

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