Are you exhausted from hearing the word ‘API’ countless times while dealing with mobile app developers? Are you interested in gaining in-depth knowledge about API?
Pat yourself! You landed on the right page.
In this post, you will read in-depth information about API development like its meaning, importance, development cost, common tools used in development, and other things.
Our team added some practical examples in this post. So, even if you are a beginner and don’t know anything about API development, this article will help you to make an informed and sound decision.
Let’s start reading.
API stands for Application Programming Interface, it is an application programming interface that allows applications to interact and communicate.
This interface is used by companies to allow external third-party developers and business partners access to their applications and functionalities.
Common Jargon To Understand API Development Process
Assuming you are not a developer and a beginner in the API development process.
In this section, we are explaining some common jargon related to the API development process which will help you to understand the remaining guide.
Open Authorization is an open standard authorization framework that apps can use to create secure delegated access for client applications.
OAuth has two forms OAuth1.0 and OAuth2.0. Nowadays, the second one is the most widely used.
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is a messaging standard that uses XML data format to respond to messages.
It is used as an interface by both public and private application programming interfaces (APIs). Popularly it is used by larger enterprises but is suitable for the usage of all sizes of organizations.
SOAP operates by using the Remote Procedure Call pattern in which functions are passed parameters and returned as a result.
An API key is a unique code that acts as a user or application identifier and authenticator. These keys can be obtained from various platforms including white-labeled internal marketplaces.
API Key’s most common use is to track and control the utilization of the API’s interface.
Rest stands for Representational State Transfer, which is a programming architecture implementation that can be used in multiple ways.
When a client makes a request using the RESTful API, it transfers the representation to the reader or the endpoint with the state of the resource.
This information can be transferred in several formats like JSON, Python, PHP, XLT, and HTML.
JSON format is readable by both machines and humans so it has become the most popular format to use.
In RESTful API HTTP requests, both headers and parameters play crucial roles because they contain information about important identifiers.
It contains a set of guidelines that are implemented when needed which makes it faster and more lightweight and increases its scalability.
These features make REST APIs perfect for the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile app development.
GET is the method of retrieving data in APIs and websites. It can be only used to request data and not modify it, so it becomes a safe method as data modification is not possible.
It is mostly the default method in HTTP clients.
Rate-Limiting is a principle of API usage that makes it accessible and available for all users. It limits people and bots to access the API according to the rules set by the policy owner.
Rate-limiting is useful to maintain security and quality control as high spikes in the users can slow down the API and make it inaccessible to other legitimate users.
Post is an HTTP method that is useful to send data to the API servers and update or create new resources.
For example, you fill out a contact form on any website. POST stores all your inputs in a response body and sends them to the server.
Latency can be defined as a time difference between a query raised in infrastructure and its response delivered to the user.
The time difference should be minimum for a better user experience.
API Throttling’s concept is similar to Rate-limiting. In this process, API owners limit the number of requests a user can make in a defined period.
Organizations implement API throttling because of various reasons primarily to stop performance degradation when the user base starts increasing.
For example, whenever we sign-up on any social media website or make an online payment, we often receive an OTP for authentication, and after two or three attempts, we receive the message “Attempt exhausted” or “Too many requests”.
We can easily observe several examples like this.
Endpoint is the specific digital location that receives the request of one program to retrieve the digital resource and information that exists there.
Generally, one software has multiple API endpoints, and each one fulfills different requirements.
Now, we have discussed the common jargon related to API development.
Things API Developers Should Pay Extra Attention To Build A User-Friendly API
Till now we have discussed the basic details of API, its related jargon, the best tools to develop API, and must-have features in an API.
In this section, we will discuss some best practices for building the right API.
Enable overriding HTTP method
Some proxies don’t support the HTTP method and only work with GET and POST methods, for them you need to enable RESTful API to override the HTTP method.
Create a balance between security and user-friendliness
Security is the most important aspect to be taken care of. An efficient API technology creates a balance between security and user-friendliness.
Make sure you implement fast and secure technology in the API to avoid unnecessary time wastage in the name of authentication.
Evaluation of API and its infrastructure
Evaluating API and its Infrastructure timely is an important practice to do consistently. Presently, it is possible to get real-time analysis but there are some errors like memory leaks, draining CPU, etc.
They require timely evaluation or you can use tools to perform evaluation tasks.
API throttling is a good practice to stop performance degradation and redirect excess traffic to avoid denial of service attacks.
API Gateway must be considered as Enforcer
When we implement OAuth and other rules, we should treat the API gateway as an enforcement point that stops unauthorized access to the data.
It should encrypt messages and other confidential information to enhance security and protect privacy.
An API Should Have The Following Qualities To Provide A Secure And User-Friendly Experience
Today, developers prefer developing applications by using APIs, although the world has used many popular and useful applications based on APIs, there is still scope left for myriad applications to utilize API technology and present something new to users.
Every day developers develop multiple applications and launch them on various platforms for users. Amongst them, only a very few of them turned out perfect applications and became successful, while others remained unnoticed.
Now, we will discuss some important and efficient API qualities which you should consider while developing applications to develop a useful and successful application.
Here are some important API features which you should include to develop a secure and efficient mobile application.
Error handling is important and it becomes crucial when you have a solid user base.
If you want the user to continue using your API, you need to make efforts and streamline the error-handling process, and educate users to fix errors by themselves by providing additional information along with error codes.
It makes API user-friendly and reduces error-handling time resulting in a smooth user experience.
Documenting the API development process is important to provide the reference. While documenting the API process, you should write according to the user’s perspective who does not know the process.
The addition of multiple examples will help you to make documentation reader-friendly.
Authorization via OAuth
Authorization via OAuth is an open standard for authorization that is secure and faster than others. However, it is good for authorization but not for authentication.
You should combine it with OpenID connect standard to balance this limitation.
Modification timestamps/search by criteria
Allowing users to search datasets implementing certain filters, primarily date filters, is a must.
Users are most interested to see the latest updates and changes after initial synchronization.
So, when someone triggers data from an API, they are keen to know updates from the last synchronization.
Suppose, the last time you triggered the synchronization was on April 23, 2023. So, this date will act as a reference, and the user will set up the request to see changes in data since April 23, 2023.
That’s why it becomes necessary for an API to provide timestamps.
Suppose, you search data by time filter and get the updated data, but it is huge. And you don’t want to see the entire data in one sitting, but only one or a few pages.
To get this done is called paging. An efficient and user-friendly API must be capable of limiting the data shown at one time with a certain frequency, and should also show users how many pages are left.
It complements the modification timestamps feature.
Sorting ensures that you are getting the latest data and not the data which you have already received.
Paging will work when ordering data and otherwise not. So, developers must add sorting in the API.
Sorting can be done by various methods but time features primarily should be there.
You can observe that Modification timestamps/Search by criteria, paging, and sorting compliments each other.
An API doesn’t need to be RESTful to be efficient. However, it is good to be RESTful because by default it supports JSON.
There are multiple fine reasons why an API should be RESTful, the primary one is RESTful APIs are stateless which makes them perfect for applications that require back-and-forth messaging.
Also, REST APIs use simple URls for communication and are lightweight which makes them more compatible with the web. And, if an upload to a mobile app gets interrupted because of any reason, it is easy and less time-consuming in the REST API to retry the process.
However, it is also possible in SOAP API to retry the process but it is more complex than REST APIs and more time-consuming.
In addition, REST APIs support various formats apart from JSON like TXT, XML, CSV, etc. It means REST APIs provide various choices to developers, while SOAP API only supports XML.
So, using JSON with REST is considered ideal practice nowadays.
In a nutshell, API should be fast, user-friendly, and well-documented to provide the best experience to the user. These practices can make your API successful and favorable to users.
Essential Tools For API Development
Let’s start with the most interesting and technical part of this post. Now we will discuss the tools required for API development.
There are myriad tools available in the market furnished with the latest technology to design and develop API.
These tools are necessary for API development and ease the process.
So, the popular API development tools are:
API Science: It is an evaluating tool. Developed with the primary reason to help developers in the evaluation of internal and external APIs.
Postman: It is an API platform that allows developers to build and use APIs. It facilitates the testing, documenting, and evaluation of the performance of the API.
API-Platform: API-Platform provides a unified set of capabilities required to develop and manage API. It helps developers to manage the API in its entire lifecycle.
ClearBlade: ClearBlade is the edge computing software used by developers to enable IoT technology into the application.
Auth0: Auth0 is a drop-in solution used by developers to add authentication and authorization services in APIs. It manages the authentication and authorization of APIs.
Apigee: It is a platform for the development and management of APIs. The Apigee platform is provided by Google to help developers and entrepreneurs to accelerate the digital transformation of their businesses.
GitHub: It is an open-source code hosting platform that provides facilities for collaboration and version control.
GitHub lets developers work together on projects and allow them to save codes in private repositories.
API Serverless: It is a cloud-native development model. Products built via serverless model help in reducing latency.
Serverless APIs allow developers to build applications and they won’t require managing servers.
However, servers are there in the serverless model but not included in the app development process.
Swagger: Swagger is an open-source framework of rules, specifications, and tools that are helpful for RESTful API development and description. It allows developers to create API documents.
APIMatic: APIMatic is also an API development platform. This platform is increasing the periodicity of the developers by providing automatic code generation.
API Transformer: Transformers are the plugins/tools used to parse content. They automatically transform content into another format based on specifications.
Detailed Example Of API Process
As we have discussed multiple things related to API and its development process. Let’s understand its importance and process two different technical examples for in-depth understanding.
The first example we can take of any social media website or dating application. Think about the time when you were signing up on your favorite social media website/dating application.
There must be multiple options for submitting details like putting details manually or signing up with the help of Gmail, Facebook, and other platforms.
Assuming you click on signup with Gmail.
Clicking on signup with Gmail allows platforms to take the data from Gmail and we can enjoy their services without filling in any details manually.
This is the most common example of API usage.
Now, let’s take a little difficult and technical one.
Suppose you are planning to travel from your city to another city and you want to book online train tickets for your journey.
You open any ticket booking website/application and fill in all the details like your city name, departure time, and destination.
As soon as you click on submit, a list of trains running on that date from your departure city to your destination city appears on the screen with all the details like arrival time, pricing, availability, waiting, etc.
To fulfill your request, the train booking application/website sent a request to the railway’s software/platform to get all the relevant details. This request is made via the API interface.
And then you select a train and fill in basic details like name, age, gender, etc. Post submitting all the details, you pay the amount and receive the ticket via SMS and Email.
Now, the Train booking application also sends all the details to the railway server simultaneously and their database also gets updated at the same time.
In this example, you can notice live communication between the railway server and the ticket booking application’s database is happening.
These two are two endpoints and the communication method can be SOAP or REST.
Amongst them, the REST method is preferred by mobile app developers as they are lightweight.
You can read the definition above to understand the difference between both of them.
Now, if you will observe, you can notice almost every popular application that is available for the users has been developed by using API.
Currrettenly, API is the base and important factor of every application that communicates with other applications or services.
What Is The Primary Benefit of API Implementation?
Implementation of API makes the user experience smooth and allows apps to share data without the involvement of developers.
It helps developers by eliminating the need of developing a similar program from the beginning as they can use the existing one.
Developers don’t even need to know how an API is implemented, they can simply use its interface to enable communication between two applications.
So, businesses and developers both focus on the API development process and it also improves the user experience.
FAQs About API Development
To answer the most frequently asked questions by people about API. We have included this section in this article to answer those questions.
What are the common challenges faced by developers in API development?
Developing an API is not an easy process. Here are some common challenges faced by developers in API development:
- API integration is complex in a completely new business environment
- Establishment of balance between cost and time
- Implementation of effective control to manage data breach risk
- Integration of API system
What are the 4 basic types of APIs used in web services?
The four most common API types used in web services are:
What are the elements of good RESTful API development?
Here are the elements of good RESTful API development:
- Using status codes for effective error handling
- Implementing Throttling
- Enable Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for security
- Do precise versioning
- Use nouns to signify endpoints instead of verbs
- Make sure to use JSON format for both sending and receiving data
What is the cost of API development?
There is no straight answer to this question. The development cost of an API depends on various factors like its security, documentation, and features.
The cost of developer and development time play contribute significantly to the API development cost.
However, we can take the average cost of $25,000 for the development of a well-documented, secured, and fully-featured API from experienced and reputed developers in the United States.
The country in which API is being developed will also increase/decrease the cost of the API development.
REST API vs SOAP API: what’s the difference?
REST stands for Representational State Transfer, it is an architectural style that uses URl to expose business logic.
SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol, it is a protocol that uses services protocol to expose the business logic.
REST is considered better than SOAP because it is lightweight and simple.
Why do developers prefer using API for application development?
It is useful in internal departmental communications within the organizations.
API is helpful for users and developers, as users don’t require to put their data again while signup or using an application because the API interface helps different applications and servers to leverage each other’s data.
The two applications are likely communicating with each other.
So, nowadays, developers prefer using API in the development of every application.
APIs are an important part of mobile application development. Almost every successful mobile application which you see online is developed by using API.
In this post, you have read a complete guide to API development which provides important details about API development.
Our team also includes some examples in this post for easy understating.
We hope you found this article helpful and will share it on your social media.