“An API that isn’t comprehensible isn’t usable.” – James Gosling
- Online booking of tickets
- English translation to other languages
- Logging into websites through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Third-party payment processing
- Google Maps
Aren’t these very commonly used activities?
Ever wondered how are the above scenarios being managed and implemented? All the above have effective APIs that are involved in its smooth execution. Application Programming Interface (API) has been the trending technology today and usage of the same has been increasing rapidly.
As per the Markets and Markets market size of API management will be around 5 billion USD. Read the full report here
What is API Development?
API development refers to the development of programming interfaces to support a variety of application interfaces having data communication between them, through different instructions and responsibilities. It empowers user interfaces to communicate seamlessly with apps, without any intervention by the team.
API is an essential ingredient of almost all applications that deal with data or act as an interface between different products. It is the fundamental base of all such apps that communicate with each other or act as a bridge between components. API has majorly two components – technical specifications that showcase the data exchange possibilities and software interface that is conveyed to the specifications.
There are different types of API that are being implemented – Web service API, Open API Partner API, Internal API, Web Socket API, Library-based API, Object remoting API, Class-based API, Composite API, Hardware API, etc.
You must think of creating APIs if you want to create a mobile/desktop app, use frontend frameworks, have a data-rich website, access similar data in different ways, empower customers with a complete data view, or upsell client’s direct API availability.
There are various terms that are frequently used in API development:
- API Key
- API Throttling
Key Features of API Development
The API empowers the users to search data depending on different criteria and provides the modification timestamps, as necessary.
Paging and Sorting
API performs paging by showcasing just the data that you wish to see. It also shows the number of pages of data that are remaining. It sorts the data based on modification time and status.
Support for JSON
API provides JSON support for effective and robust API development. The REST API are light in weight, stateless, and offer retrying the upload mobile app procedure in case it fails. JSON’s syntax is like most programming languages and hence easy for developers for parsing it into other languages.
API enables authorization via OAuth, OAuth2, JWT etc. because it is faster and just needs a click on a button. It helps in deciding if it is the right identity being used and if the user is allowed to perform the relevant actions.
A Cache strategy can be developed for retrieving resources at a fast speed. Tools like Memcached and Redis are used for implementing the Cache strategy.
API has wrappers that package specifically to a language. There is a combination of different sets of API calls into user-driven functionalities, barring interaction with the users.
API offers effective error management and debugging process. It makes use of different error handling methods like using error codes, the number of errors, differentiating between general and domain errors, analyzing the error cause, etc.
Server and Client-Side Validation
API validation refers to having accurate data on the server-side and the client-side. The server-side validation has routine activities and the client-side validation has an instant feedback provision.
Just like software testing, API testing involves testing of the APIs individually and as a part of the integration testing being done. It tests the performance, accuracy, and security through popular tools like SoapUI, JMeter, etc.
API supports a throttling mechanism when it is about redirection in case of traffic overflow or protecting from DoS.
Library and SDK Support
API development supports a variety of libraries and SDKs that can help fasten the speed of implementation. This can be done through resources that have reusable procedures and code.
Why is API Development Important?
API development is primarily important for all types of businesses that depend upon software applications for their routine operations. API development offers faster development, saving time, and smooth working. There are several benefits that API development offers and hence is crucial to business:
- Seamless and faster integration with other systems
- Customization and control of business activities
- High-quality client experience and vendor satisfaction
- Enhanced collaboration between platforms and applications
- Flexible, powerful, innovative, and highly secure
- Usage of the same rules, database, and code for all relevant apps
- Fewer developers, more output
Different Categories of API
- Open API – A standard API or public API that is available to all for use. It is in the form of web services or software apps.
- Internal API – A private API that is open only to internal systems. It can be used in collaboration with other internal sections.
- Composite API – It combines service API and data with a series of activities that can be concurrently performed. It helps in fastening the speed and effectiveness of the applications.
- REST – Representative State Transfer is an architectural API implementation that fastens interaction within applications.
- SOAP – Simple Object Access Protocol is an API protocol with XML for better communication and intervention.
- XML-RPC – A protocol depending on XML for data transfer
- JSON-RPC – A protocol that uses remote procedure calls with JSON
How Does API Development Work?
The working of an API is interesting and the way it offers terrific benefits to software applications is worth a look. Here are the different steps through which API development progresses and offers results:
- Define your objectives and finalize the target audience
- Design the API architecture, the tools that will be required
- Undergo API development based on the finalized tools
- Test API based on testing tools and test cases
- Keep monitoring your API and analyze feedback that comes from teams and users
Varied API Development Tools
Though there are many API development tools hogging the market, here are some of the popular ones that have proven their prowess in the software scenario:
Best Practices for API Development
Following the are key guidelines, if implemented, can lead to effective API development that can lead software applications and programs to great success:
- Make use of efficient features such as Throttling, Sorting, Paging, etc.
- Utilize API Gateway for encrypting messages and effective throttling
- Permit Overriding HTTP procedure
- Analyze the complete API infrastructure to manage any type of memory or CPU issue
- Go in for token-based authentication for high-level security
- Read through and prepare detailed technical documentation for a better understanding
- Utilize the numerous libraries and SDK to fasten the process of API implementation
- Maintain proper naming conventions, coding standards, security conventions, etc.
- Ensure flexibility by permitting usage of APIs in different conditions with a good tolerance
- Maintain security but keep it user-friendly, and not too difficult for users to manage
- Keep it simple, smart, and sleek – that is the mantra of a successful API
On a Parting Note
Going through a smooth and effective API development journey is crucial to the success of the API. APIs are inevitable for almost all business segments and all software applications depend on it, for their functioning. Hence, it is vital to understand and follow all crucial steps that ensure a smooth API development!