As APIs become more widespread, more and more legacy services are racing to add API functionality to their software, with mixed results. The most stable and functional APIs tend to be developed in tandem with the software – in an API-First approach.
So, how do you recognize API-First software, and what benefits can you expect from API-First software?
What are APIs?
An Application Programming Interface (API) acts as an intermediary that connects two separate types of software. It functions as a way of opening the lines of communication between two services by providing a documented set of rules that describe how one service can retrieve information from the other. In short: APIs enable apps to communicate with external 3rd party services.
The API-First Approach
An API-First approach to software development prioritizes the API as a function of the software or service and treats the API as an independent product. More specifically, API-First means:
Your software is communicating with other software and systems only through APIs.
When developing this software, the developers already know that these APIs will be the primary way of connecting with other software/systems. That helps to make the connection between the software and these external systems via API more efficient.
In essence, APIs are not an afterthought.
Benefits of Developing Products Using API-First Software
APIs are beneficial to the development process, but not all API services are created with equal care and consideration to requirements. The primary benefit of using software that has been developed with an API-First mindset: You have the assurance that everything offered by the provider will be available via the API. It also assures clients that they can incorporate the API-First software into other applications with relative ease and that the API will always be available and up-to-date.
An API-First approach brings along a host of other advantages, including the following:
Possibility to Reduce Costs and Time to Market
When faced with complex integration requirements, developers can rely on the documentation of the API-First software they are using to validate and implement the requirements. It can save them a significant amount of time because they will not waste time building workarounds. That will also allow them to avoid dead ends.
Decrease the Likelihood of Application Crashes
When you use the API-First software in your software project, you can usually rely on the fact that the logic covered by that system has been tested well.
As a client of an API-First software, you don’t need to take care of the API itself, as the vendor is doing that. It ensures that your application is always state-of-the-art.
Provide a Positive Developer Experience
Developers are the most popular patrons of APIs. Therefore, whether or not the APIs are successful will be determined by how well they work for them. Developers will have a more gratifying and pleasant experience using their APIs if they use an API-First approach.
How To Recognize a Software That Is API-First
API-First software typically offers more comprehensive integrations with various other software. From social logins to payment processing, API-First Software integrations usually offer more flexibility than out-of-the-box integrations, making them a better choice for organizations with more complex requirements. However, just because software offers a comprehensive set of integrations, doesn’t always mean it was developed in an API-First way.
The primary way to recognize software is API-First revolves around the way the software offers solutions. Any software that only offers its solutions through an API must have been built by following an API-First approach. However, just because software offers its solution through an API does not necessarily mean it is an API-First software.
In software built without an API-First approach, APIs often get put on top of older software as an optional extra. In many cases, this results in an inefficient connection via the APIs, or they may hardly provide a subset of features despite the claims from suppliers. The only way to determine whether an API is complete or only offers a subset of features is to search through the API and compare necessities with what gets promised.
While identifying an API-First software with 100% certainty is nearly impossible, checking the above aspects can help you recognize the likelihood that software is API-First.
As the deployment of multichannel went mainstream, the API-First strategy gained prominence. This technique helps firms produce apps that work across all channels and grow as more outlets get launched without having to develop innovative solutions separately.