A Complete Guide to API Development [Significance, Terminologies, Tools, Working, & Best Practices]
You must have heard the name API development. It is an Application Programming Interface and is used in many systems and apps. Whether it is fintech, food delivery, real estate, education, traveling, or manufacturing apps, you will find API everywhere. From booking flights online to making payments via different modes, without API you can’t communicate with other apps.
50% of salesforce transactions happen with the help of API development. Moreover, the Netflix API allows the platform to stream over more than 190 devices. The significance of API has increased in the last 1o years. Thereby, businesses want the mobile app development company to use the best practices of Rest API development.
API development depends on the business types and needs. That is why some businesses use REST APIs while some use automation services for API development. Without API it would be difficult for the apps and systems to communicate and offer desired services to the people.
If you don’t know what is API, why API documentation is important, how it works, API development tools, and the API development cost, you have landed on the right blog. Let’s move ahead to know everything.
What Is Application Programming Interface (API)?
There are many API definitions. I am presenting the simplest one: API development is a way to access the features, procedures, and functions of other apps.
for example, when you use a Flight booking app, you get a list of flights for different cities, timings, booking prices, seat availability, and much more details. How is it possible for a flight booking app to collaborate with different airline companies, and ask them about their flight details?
It’s all because of the integration of the API interface. The flight booking app doesn’t need to access the entire database of the airline companies instead it sends an API request for access to some information (Available flights, timings, prices, and seats).
Let’s understand with one more example.
When you order food online, you can see where is the delivery boy at real-time. It is possible with Google maps or another map service that the app uses. The food delivery platform doesn’t need to develop an app for location tracking instead it can simply use the services of Google Maps by developing APIs.
Numerous sectors like real estate, education, food delivery and manufacturing, finance, and communication, require APIs for their apps. That is why app developers follow the API development process, as per the requirements of the app owners and business needs.
Moreover, the app developers have to use APIs with different technologies. AI and Machine learning emerging technologies are widely used in mobile apps. So, the API integration testing is done by app developers for these technologies. Have a look at the image to know the type of application programming interface used for AI and Machine learning worldwide in 2019.
Significance of API Documentation
As you know, many industries interchange data from their databases through API documentation, so you must be thinking, why companies are helping their competitors?
API development is beneficial for the growth of enterprises and the success of the business. Because with the help of API integration companies share their data, functionalities, and features, but only those are requested. It means you don’t get access to the entire database.
Let’s read out the significance of using API for software development below.
- The app developers can create better products
- Information can be provided quickly
- Secure way to access the required data format
- Integration of API interface provides the better user experience
- API development Improves app development
- Reduces the cost by not using different coding languages
- Expands the reach of your brand
The importance of the API functions depends on the API type.
Types of Web APIs
There are different types of APIs, and businesses use them as per their needs.
- Public API
- Private API
- Partner API
- Composite API
Scroll down to read about these API types in the below write-up.
1. Public API
Public APIs are open and available for all businesses and developers. You will find moderate authentication and authorization in public APIs. When businesses need to share their applications and data with other businesses, they develop public APIs. Google map is the best example of this type of API.
2. Private API
Internal APIs are developed to use within the enterprise to connect the systems and products. For example, you can connect the Payroll and HR system with API development.
3. Partner API
You can allow access to your app data to only selected and authorized outside developers or businesses. It allows for facilitating data transfer between businesses to businesses. For this, the partner API needs rights and licenses.
4. Composite API
Composite API combines two or more APIs to create a sequence of related or interdependent operations. App developers can use the composite API to address complex and tightly-related API behaviors. It also affects the speed and performance of the app.
Terminologies Used in the API Development
You have read what is API, its significance, and its types, but you can face issues to understand the working of API if you don’t know some terminologies.
- GET: Request data from an API server
- POST: Sends new information to a server
- PUT: Makes changes to the existing data on a server
- DELETE: Removes or deletes data from a server
- API Key: The API key is a code to identify and authenticate the app user
- End Point: The code allows two software programs to communicate
- OAuth: Open standard Authorization framework renders access from the user’s side without sharing the credentials.
- REST APIs: Representational State Transfer (REST) is also called RESTful API. It allows two computer systems to share information securely over the internet. It enhances the efficiency of communication between two systems. Moreover, RESTful API testing is an open-source testing tool through which you can test JSON and XML-based web applications.
- SOAP API: Simple object access protocol is a messaging protocol for sharing structured information. API designed with SOAP uses XML for the message structure. SOAP API also works with application layer protocols (HTTP and SMTP). SOAP is a protocol whereas REST is an architectural style.
- Rate Limiting: It is the cost at which the end-user can access the APIs. In other words, Rate limiting means, you can limit access, by restricting the number of requests a user can hit to an API at a time.
- Latency: The time is required for the data sharing process, this is called latency. Specifically, latency is the time between the request and the response.
- API Throttling: It controls the usage of API by users for a particular time. API throttling can be used for API limiting, in which if the user asks for more than fixed requests error 429 will appear with the message “Too many requests”.
How Does API Work?
You know the importance of API and why web APIs are crucial for all online businesses. Now, you must be thinking about, how exactly API works. have a look at the image below to have a glimpse of the working of API.
An app, IoT, or mobile user request some information, and the API management system connect with the API and ask to fetch the particular information from the database. For example, suppose you are sitting in a restaurant, you want food, but how will you communicate with the cook in the kitchen?
Here is a link called “Waiter” (An API). He takes your order (request) and comes back with food (Response). You get what you requested, not the entire food cooked in the kitchen. In the same way, the API server sends you only what you request.
Top 10 Tools for API Testing and Development
There are many API design tools and technologies. These API development tools help in the app development process. Although you will find many tools for API testing and development, I am presenting some crucial ones. Have a look at them below.
- API Science
- API Serverless Architecture
Know about all these tools briefly in the space below.
Postman is an API platform for developers where they can evaluate the performance of their APIs through API testing. They can design, build, and iterate their APIs with the help of the Postman toolchain. It has around 75,000 open APIs and over 20 million registered users.
Swagger is an open-source framework for API development. Many big technology giants like Microsoft and Gettylmages use the Swagger API testing tool. It is widely used for API description writing so that machines can understand the RESTful API. So, you can use it to design, build, and document API descriptions.
Hoppscotch is an open-source API development platform. It is one of the fastest tools to send API requests and copy API responses in real-time. This HTTP API testing framework uses many HTTP methods like GET, PUT, OPTIONS, CONNECT, HEAD, PATCH, <Custom>, and more.
Apigee helps develop and manage APIs. You can manage the API gateway and easily produce innovative and user-friendly apps. Likewise, you can design, secure, analyze, and scale APIs anywhere with visibility and control.
5. API Science
API science tool helps evaluate the performance of both internal APIs and external APIs. It gives you a full-featured API to write code for your device. In addition, the API science tool helps to create and update the monitor.
6. API Serverless Architecture
The app and web developers use the API serverless architecture for designing, building, publishing, and hosting APIs. For this, they need the help of cloud-based server infrastructure, Thereby, the developers do not have to manage servers.
API platform is one of the popular PHP frameworks. It is widely used for web API development. Moreover, many enterprises use this framework for the development of their own API.
GitHub offers a cloud-based Git repository that helps developers to store, track, manage, and control changes. Developers can pull requests, do version control, and comment. Moreover, they can save their codes in private repositories.
ClearBlade supports three native APIs: REST, MQTT, and Web Sockets. REST API interacts with ClearBlade cloud platforms and edge platforms. So, the ClearBlade tool is the ideal tool for building IoT solutions. Its a popular Internet of Things platform to build scalable IoT applications.
AuthO is an identity management solution. It ensures, that the API is used by the authenticated user. So, it is helpful to authenticate and authorize APIs. You can develop secure web interfaces with the help of this tool.
Important Features of API Development
For the development of secure, scalable, and robust mobile applications, focus on the below-mentioned features of API.
- Search By Criteria
- JSON Support/REST
- Authorization via OAuth
Let’s read about each feature in the detail below.
1. Search By Criteria
Modification timestamp is the crucial API feature because it lets the users search for different data based on various criteria. It allows modifications like updating, editing, and deleting that are important just after the synchronization of the data.
Often, you don’t want to see the complete data instead you want just a glimpse of it. In this case, the API should be able to identify how much data to display in one go and particular frequency. Moreover, it informs the end-user about the number of paging of data remaining.
It is an integral feature for any API endpoint. You can sort the data by the last modified date or by email. To enable sorting, developers have to add a sort or Sort-by URL parameter. Moreover, the good API designs provide the flexibility to specify ascending or descending order.
4. JSON Support/REST
5. Authorization via OAuth
OAuth is a third-party API testing to identify the user and authorize him to access data. It is the 5th feature and provides Authorization as a service. Since security is a vital thing to consider, using a faster and more efficient tool like OAuth can prove helpful.
API Development Stages [API lifecycle]
There are mainly five stages in API development.
Scroll down to know about the stages and understand the API development process.
In the first stage, you have to plan for designing the API. It involves mapping out the various resources and operations along with the type of business requirements. Implementation of the desired API requires robust planning and designing. Many frameworks help in designing the APIs.
Whatever you planned and designed in the previous stage, now you have to implement them with the help of coding. Well, only basic coding knowledge is required for API development. Likewise, generate documentation as soon as possible because it’s crucial for market strategies.
The API testing is crucial to finding the server error and handling unexpected errors. API should be tested meticulously for impeccable performance. Once the API is delivered to other developers, you must take care of its quality and issues.
Facilitating easy discovery and consumption is crucial for an excellent API. Deploying the API should be impeccable and meet the requirements effectively for the particular business. So, you need to prepare the API documentation and integrate it. Make sure the API is high quality and delivers impeccable performance.
Retirement is the last stage of the API life cycle. The phase of the API version is discontinued. Sometimes, the entire API is also discontinued. The popular deprecation of API is Netflix API. If I talk about the recent one, it is Google Hangouts API. The end user must know which API is available for use and is stable.
5 Best Practices of API Development
Building the Right API is important for the success of the product. For this, you need to follow the best practices and produce an efficient API. Here is the list of the 5 best practices of API development.
- Use HTTP Methods Correctly
- Use Plural Resources
- Document the Changes
- Use Throttling
- Allow Overriding HTTP Method
Let’s read about these practices in detail below.
1. Use HTTP Methods Correctly
You already read about the HTTP methods like GET, PUT, PATCH, POST, and DELETE. You use these actions to modify the resources. Many developers make mistakes by using the wrong action for the request. They sometimes use the POST method to retrieve the data whereas it is used to send the new request to the server. So, always use the correct methods otherwise you can end up making several mistakes.
2. Use Plural Resources
API endpoint should be plural because you don’t know API response has one or multiple data. For example, if you want to retrieve all writers, hence you will call the below endpoint.
For that reason, you should use plural resources for convenience.
3. Document the Changes
For accuracy and easy management, you should document all the changes. It helps to keep a record of everything, so you will not get confused when you get stuck. Moreover, this is the first thing the users will see and use. Include example requests, responses, and descriptions for all elements, and include the glossary as well.
4. Use Throttling
Throttling is crucial to redirect the overflow of traffic. It means you can control the way API is used. Throttling helps you to set permissions as per need and define whether the particular API calls are valid or not. It is also called the Rate-Limit API query.
5. Allow Overriding HTTP Method
There are many other best practices of Rest API development, you can check them.
API Development Cost
If you are planning for an app and want to hire dedicated developers, you must know that API integration adds to your final cost for app building. A simple API development cost is $20,000 if you are working with a reputed company. However, the cost can vary because it depends on developer cost, development time, research, designing the database, examining the traffic, documentation, and many more.
Almost all businesses and enterprises use the API in their apps and webs because of various reasons. It is crucial for the success of the business. If you also want the best API for your app, the information in this blog will help you a lot. Moreover, you can talk to our experts if you still have any doubts. You can hire top app development company Technource for the robust and scalable applications and impeccable API development.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between REST API and SOAP API?
How to develop the best API?
What are the benefits of API integration?
How long does it take to build API?
How hard to build an API?