The API-First Approach to Development
The emergence of the Application Programming Interface, or API, is perhaps the most significant technological change in the last decade. API is at the heart of a slew of other important innovations. This includes SaaS, cloud computing, container orchestration, distributed apps, serverless computing, and machine learning.
APIs enable the constant modularization of technology. The notion that the programmatic interface of a structured digital service is the lowest common denominator in a tech stack has become entrenched in software engineering. Most developers would never consider developing their libraries and services for many functions.
Given how pervasive and fundamental APIs have become, we expect API-first firms to become the most prominent players in their industries in the future. Because APIs are their core offering, some businesses are API-first. In 2022, companies may spend up to an average of $23.6 million on API and related infrastructure.
Three famous instances of the API-first approach can be seen in companies such as Shopify, Stripe, and Okta. Other organizations can be considered API-first because their culture and ethos demand that everything be consumable and reachable via APIs. This can be seen in Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
However, most businesses are neither IT behemoths nor API-as-a-product pioneers. Nonetheless, the winners and losers in every industry are now primarily defined by their ability to use technology and software. As a result, such businesses should be familiar with APIs and be on their way to adopting API-first thinking and business processes.
What Is API-First?
An API-first strategy means that your APIs are the primary ingredient in any particular development project. Everything about the project assumes that mobile devices will consume the end product, and there is also the assumption that client applications will use APIs.
An API-first strategy entails creating consistent and reusable APIs, which can be accomplished by establishing a contract for how the API should behave using an API description language. Selecting a contract necessitates devoting more attention to the design of an API. Before any code is built, it frequently necessitates further planning and engagement with stakeholders who provide feedback on the API architecture.
5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt an API-First Approach
1. Developers can work on projects simultaneously.
The API-first approach requires creating a contract. When different developer teams follow an agreement across services, it allows them to work on several APIs simultaneously.
Developers no longer need to wait for an API update before proceeding to the following API. They can imitate APIs and test API dependencies based on the specified API definition.
2. The time it takes to get a product to market is reduced.
Using technologies that allow the import of API definition files allows many of the processes involved in creating APIs to be automated. API definition files can be imported into tools, and API tools like API documentation, SDKs, and mock APIs can be built automatically using those files. The creation of APIs and applications is considerably accelerated by automation.
API first also allows programs to add new services and technologies without re-architecting the entire system. The competition is uncompromising when producing apps, so developers must build apps swiftly. Applications must now be not only well-designed but also be ready to market in six months.
3. App production requires less capital.
APIs and code can be applied to a variety of projects. When there is a need to build a new app, developers don’t have to start from the beginning, which is demanding, time-consuming, and expensive. API-first architecture also allows the majority of problems to be handled before any code is created, which helps avoid issues when it comes to integrating APIs with applications.
4. There is less risk of failure.
APIs are utilized in practically every business function for most firms, from marketing and sales to communication and consumer-facing applications. APIs can have a beneficial or inferior impact on every aspect of your business. APIs minimize the risk of failure because they are dependable, consistent, and simple to use by developers.
5. Developers get better experiences.
Developers are the most common API users. Developer experience may make or break an API’s success. API first guarantees that your APIs are well-received by developers. It’s easier to reuse code and enroll developers. The learning curve is also reduced, well-designed, well-documented. Overall, consistent APIs deliver favorable developer experiences.
How to Become an API-First Company?
Let’s look at the things you must do when choosing the API-first approach.
1. Discuss with your team.
It is vital to define your company’s essential services and capabilities. Determine which APIs should be established and which services should be made available via APIs. Also, for each API, determine and write down the use cases, and make a list of possible endpoints based on the use cases.
2. Decide on who the stakeholders are.
Your API strategy should involve as many people as possible. It would be best if you had a company-wide buy-in and a shared vision across all departments. Allow stakeholders to contribute to the API’s design. Stakeholders can then agree on interactions across the organization, ensuring consistency in APIs.
3. Create an API contract.
The API contract specifies a set of API design standards and best practices. Make sure that all APIs are described and documented. From endpoint names, URLs, error codes, and versioning, all the APIs in place work the same way. The most critical issue is to maintain a level of consistency.
4. Implement a style guide.
A thorough, consistent style guide provides consistency across an organization’s service-building teams. API status codes, versioning, error handling, and other features will be standardized to develop APIs consistently.
5. Enforce API governance.
A governance approach for APIs can enforce specified standards and reinforce intended outcomes. Peer coded reviews can also aid in ensuring that API design principles are adhered to and that developers are writing high-quality code.
6. Take advantage of automation.
API documentation, style validation, API mocking, and versioning are all tasks that can be automated. Make APIs self-service so that developers can immediately begin developing apps using APIs. Allow developers to check out API endpoints using interactive documentation or a sandbox.
7. Track your API portfolio.
Track your API portfolio to avoid duplicating code and developing redundant APIs. Create a system for tracking and managing APIs. It becomes more challenging to keep track of APIs and their dependencies as your company and platform grow.
8. API Development Services
Create more data than you’ve ever made before. APIs serve as the link between modern, scalable, and portable business systems.
Contact Profound Logic to start your next project! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-877-224-7768 to learn more!