API Standards for Foundation Services

In creating and maintaining the public-facing structure of a foundation service, you should hold yourself to several first-order goals:

  • The purpose of the service should be readily apparent.
  • The supported usage models of the service should be easy for a new consumer to understand.
  • The service should be consistent with other foundation services.
  • From the API documentation and tests, it should be feasible to develop a distinct implementation of the service (i.e., without having to delve into the internals of the current implementation).

Below we outline concrete standards that aid in achieving the above goals.


  • Strive to give your service a name that makes it immediately obvious what the service is for (“network”, “metrics”).

  • Avoid the usage of “Service” in interface names. While the term “Service” is overloaded in Chromium, in the context of //services it has a very specific meaning and should not be overloaded.

  • Strive to avoid conceptual layering violations in naming -- e.g., references to Blink or //content.

  • Use the names “FooClient” and “FooObserver” consistently in interfaces. If there is an expected 1:1 correspondence between Foo and its counterpart, that counterpart should be called FooClient. If there is an expected 1:many correspondence between Foo and its counterparts, those counterparts should be called FooObservers.


  • Every service should have a top-level README.md that explains the purpose and supported usage models of the service.

  • Every public interface should be documented at the interface (class) level and at the method level.

  • Interface documentation should be complete enough to serve as test specifications. If the method returns information of a user's accounts, what happens if the user is not signed in? If the method makes a request for an access token, what happens if a client makes a second method call before a first one has completed? If the method returns a nullable object, under which conditions will it be null?

  • Strive to avoid your documentation being too specific to a given client.

API Shape

  • Strive to avoid molding your API shape too specifically to the needs of a given client. Most foundational services should make sense even in a Chrome-less system environment. A good test is: Would your service‘s APIs seem sensible to users who don’t have knowledge of Chrome's specific needs?

  • If a given interface Foo requires “construction parameters” (e.g., the client must give it a FooClient before calling any methods), provide a FooProvider interface with a GetFoo() method that takes in the relevant construction parameters. This approach eliminates the possibility of a badly-written (or malevolent) client calling methods on a partially-constructed Foo. To be concrete:

    // NO: Client will have access to partially-constructed Foo. interface Foo { SetClient(FooClient client); ... };

    // YES: Foo will be completely constructed before client has access. interface FooProvider { GetFoo(Foo& request, FooClient client); }; interface Foo { ... };

  • In the absence of specific guidance, strive for consistency with surrounding interfaces and with interfaces in other services.


  • Use service tests to test the public interfaces exposed by your service.

  • Every public method should be covered by at least one service test. Strive to have your tests enforce your documentation (corollary: if you can enforce your documentation without any tests, improve your documentation :).

  • Think of these tests as a form of “compliance tests”: They should be written in such a way that engineers with a distinct implementation of your APIs should trivially be able to run your tests against their implementation. Notably, try to avoid relying on implementation details of the service in its tests.

  • Related to the above, aim for a high degree of coverage with these tests. If a reimplementation passes your tests, you should have a high degree of confidence that it will be usable by your consumers.

Appendix: Responsibility for Upholding These Standards

The responsibility for holding these standards is shared across //services/OWNERS, individual service OWNERS, and services developers:

  • //services/OWNERS own the standards themselves and are responsible for ensuring that quality and consistency are maintained across //services.
  • Individual service OWNERS are responsible for ensuring that their service adheres to these standards.
  • Service developers are responsible for ensuring that their CLs adhere to these standards (and thus making life easier for the OWNERS that must review these CLs :).

We expect that these standards will evolve over time. If you encounter a tricky situation not covered here, please send an email to services-dev@. Similarly, if you see inconsistency or violations of the standards, please file a bug and CC relevant OWNERS (i.e., of the service in question and/or //services/OWNERS).