If you are in communication with a mobile app development company chances are you’ve heard the term API many times before. This guide will review the different types of API, their benefits, key differences in SOAP and REST API development tactics, the development process from ideas through post-completion customer feedback, and the cost to develop an API for your business.

What Is An API And Why Is It Important?

API stands for application programming interface which is a software system with a set of specific instructions and requirements. These standards enable your software or app to utilize services and features of other app platforms and devices for higher quality services. 

Simply put, it is a system that allows apps to talk to each other.

APIs give you an understanding of code and other details, however, API cannot give complete access. 

How Does an API Work?

An API uses a set of rules for communication. In other words it acts as a middleman between machines. Imagine you need to book a hotel while passing through an unfamiliar city. You go to a site and search for hotels in that area with the availability of the room you want for however long. Instantly you get results of all the hotels in the area that fit your specified search criteria. In another simpler example, when you sign in to any app using your Facebook, you tell Facebook that you need access to the account. The mobile apps call the API for retrieving your account details.

With the high demand for APIs raised by custom apps, a network of APIs always keeps communicating through your mobile phones. These are actually the custom API integration services that play the role behind all these communications. APIs submitted an immediate request with all of the hotel systems that fit your search parameters and displayed rapid results on your screen via apps.

Types of APIs

Mobile app development comprises API development and Integration as well. There are several kinds of API where each of them is suitable for some particular kind of mobile app development service.  All things considered, APIs are categorized roughly into one of four groups.

1. Public APIs

Public APIs are open to being used by any developer. This is something to look for when you hire API developers because many businesses offer this as a solution to a wide-ranged audience. The APIs work on moderate authentication and authorization which allows the company to monetize their APIs earning from per-call costs.

2. Partner APIs

Partner APIs are developed for business-to-business information exchanges only. These APIs are created to give access to specific developers, not accessible by public developers. Only a license holder will be granted admittance into these. Being stricter on who is allowed access to these, this API development framework is developed to be much more secure. 

Partner APIs are not as easy to monetize but are often used to access data from external CRM companies. Compared to all the other API types, these partner APIs are equipped with more advanced security, stronger authorization, and authentication.

3. Private APIs

Private APIs can be used solely within a company or organization, in other words, they are considered internal. These easily gather data and systems utilized for business purposes. Private APIs are commonly used by HR departments and for payroll services within your business.

Since they are privately run and operated, the custom API development process does not call for additional security which leads to weaker authorization and authentication. Rest assured the business systems you already have in place have the security level required to keep these APIs secure.

4. Composite APIs

Composite APIs are optimized because your API development company will blend two or more types to create a hybrid of sorts. These APIs have improved performance and functions compared to the other API groups because they take only the parts they need from each. 

Your mobile app development services will create a composite API for you that integrates the requirements of each API you require.

For non-tech stakeholders, it might be intimidating to see several kinds of API and the decision to choose which one is required for their operation. Because they are experts in their field as you are in yours, the mobile app development company you hire will know how to create an API that fits your specific business’s requirements. Whether you’re open to a public system, partnership with your clients, something private, or a mixture of all of them you have that ability. 

Easily you can customize your development to whatever your project is with the API development services you hire by specifying the right category for your needs. You are now one step closer to your completed project.

Benefits of API

There are many different benefits APIs provide for your business. These benefits are not limited to saving time, fast development, and smooth operations as there are many more. Look at them below-

  • Quick Integration

Today, every business has some kind of software they use, APIs bridge the gap between two or more systems creating a smooth process for your day-to-day life. A Good Custom API integration services allow for quick operations and decision-making for businesses. 

Imagine having a different system to use for accounting, accounts, sales, customer service, marketing, etc. It is unnecessary to manually transfer data from one system to another. APIs allow the data to be transferred wherever it is required in real-time. 

  • Increase Customer and Client Experiences

Every company aims for high-rated customer and client experiences. And the software you implement in your business has a huge effect on it. During the API development process, you can easily apply extensions of your software wherever it is needed. 

This goes for both the client and customer as each will want different solutions to create an extraordinary experience with your business. The API will minimize the need for extra expenditures for software, increasing the experience with your client.

  • Controlled Features

When you hire mobile app developers, this is something they will ask if you want to be implemented in your API. Sometimes having the software businesses are great in one area but hinder employees’ day-to-day requirements in another. Having a couple of features that slow the process and work performance isn’t a viable reason to replace the entire software.

However, the mobile app development company you hire can implement strategies to keep all parties happy. This will improve the work production and quality of employees while allowing the parts that worked in other areas to remain consistent by giving the ability to control the software as needed.

With APIs in place, you can customize the software you already love to fit your business’s needs all around.

Tools for API Development Process

To develop an efficient API, there are some of the powerful tools and technologies that are essential to equip into the development process. They are as follows:

  • Postman: is an API tool that allows the developers to run, test, document, and analyze the performance of APIs.
  • Auth0:  helps authorize and authenticate various APIs.
  • API-Platform: is a framework used in web API development
  • API Science: helps determine both internal and external performance of APIs
  • GitHub: is a git repository service offering code management. It is useful for managing code files, commenting, version controls, and more, across a group and has a hand in saving codes in private warehouses.
  • APIMatic and API Transformer: both of these tools transform code and SDKs into preferred formats

Must-have Features to Add in API

Let’s review the features that are significant to include in order to have secure and effective SOAP and REST API development:

  • Modification timestamps & Search by Criteria: An effective API allows users to search for data based on different specifications, like time and date. 
  • Sorting: This ensures the user receives all pages of data they require. A good Mobile app development service will ensure the API empowers users to sort data to meet the criteria allotted.
  • Paging: Sometimes we don’t want to change all the data, but we do want to adjust a particular piece. Your API Development Company will ensure your API can determine how much data to display at what frequency while informing the user of the number of pages remaining.
  • OAuth Authorization: During your custom API development ensure you can authorize via OAuth due to the one-click and done ability to complete this task.
  • RESTful Operations: It is best to hire API developers who will implement RESTful operations, or provide JSON support to ensure an effective API framework. This reduces the weight and allows you to retry the upload if it fails. 

The response time should be fast, processing time should be minimum, with high-level security. It is vital to implement these essentials in your framework to secure your application.

API Development Process

The process to develop an application programming interface aka API for your business can seem difficult, however, the following is the simplest 5-step process to implement to get your desired results quickly.

Step 1. Consider the User

Those who will be using the API need to be the first consideration in the steps of how to develop an API. They are the ones who are working directly with it, so consider these questions:

  • Who can benefit from your API? 
    • For developers, this includes their domain, needs, goals, and so on.
    • For customers, consider the day-to-day of the employee.
  • How can you incorporate their needs into your API?
    • Are they manually transferring data now?
  • How can you provide a better experience?
    • What are the features and feasibility techs you are putting in?
    • How can you gear up the responses?
  • What tools do you need to provide along with your API
    • Consider developer programs, SDKs, documentation, educational resources, etc.

Step 2. Design the API Architecture

Your company needs to know how to build an API that hits all 5 key points for efficient user and programming experiences. 

  • Testability: testers need to easily identify defects.
  • Security: your API needs protection from malicious users.
  • Usability: developers must be able to use, learn, and update your API with little effort.
  • Reliability: your API must have an as little downtime as possible.
  • Scalability: your system should be able to handle load spikes.

Choose your Style: REST vs SOAP

Both REST and SOAP API development styles are great options but differ greatly, here are the differences you need to know when conveying with the mobile app development company you hire.

REST, or representational state transfer, API is a software architectural style that describes a complete set of constraints to be employed for building Web services. On the other hand, SOAP, or simple object access protocol, is a protocol with higher complexity. This is because it adds more conditions than REST, like increased security.

If you are looking to integrate API development services with the app developer you hire, take note that companies typically prefer REST over SOAP APIs due to being platform-dependent

API Security

Securing your API is something you don’t need to sacrifice but make sure you hire mobile app developers who will design your API in a high-quality way. The ones who offer quality work, however, will have an increased cost to develop an API. 

An increased cost is worth it if it means a less vulnerable and more secure application, especially if your business handles sensitive information. To understand how secure your Application Programming Interface, incorporate the following security layers:

  • Identification: Use API keys to identify developers accessing your API. These IDs assist in the detection of suspicious behavior.
  • Authentication: Use a tool for authentication that redirects developers to a server to confirm their identity by using a username and password.
  • Authorization: Use added security like this to limit access to certain features, some tools will do this by the user’s login ID.
  • Encryption: Use SSL or TLS encryptions to protect your traffic against possible risk factors. These allow you to mask the data from being present in logs.

Step 3. Custom API Development

The development process for API gets rather lengthy, so before we dive deep into the process, let’s review some of the best tools for the job.

How to Develop API?

It can seem like a lot all at once, luckily, API development can be broken down into 9 easy phases:

  • Define the Responses
  • Handle the Errors
  • Build an Endpoint
  • Apply Pagination & Search
  • Performance Analyze
  • Apply Caching
  • Write API Documentation
  • Add Versioning
  • Use Throttling
1. Define all API Responses

The successful codes you will receive are 200 and 201. They are labeled clearly with the “OK” at the end of them signifying a successful response. With JSON these codes will also incorporate a timestamp.

2. Handle Codes and Errors

Codes and errors are going to happen, just be prepared for them whenever they do. Some mean there was an issue, however, as we just reviewed some pop up to show us the success of implementation. 

Here are the most common codes received and what they mean:

200: Generic OK.
201: Resource created OK.
202: Accepted (the action is queued)
400: Bad request (invalid syntax)
401: Unauthorized (no current user and there should be)
403: The user doesn’t have the right to access the resource
404: Resource not found
405: Method is not permitted
410: Data is missing or was deleted
500: Internal error
503: The API is in maintenance mode

APIs sometimes leak sensitive information in error messages. Things like names of servers, versions, classes, frameworks, and SQL queries used on the project. A hacker can use this information to manipulate known vulnerabilities. Have your custom API integration services counter this by using an API gateway that standardizes error messages thus avoiding the risk of exposing sensitive information.

3. Build an API endpoint

When your API interacts with another system, one of the communication channels is termed as the endpoint which tells both sides the communication can now cease, conversation over. 

Endpoints create seamless integrations, however, optimized performances can be incorporated by the explanations of different communications and depend on the communication of the API endpoints. 

During REST API development your developers will make it work with JSON which uses a noun as endpoints. In this development style you will differences in nesting resources for ranked objects, plural nouns as collection, and a few more. 

Your mobile app development services should ensure your API will handle all errors, allow pagination, sorting, filtering, etc. while keeping a high-security protocol.

Pagination and search are two of the most important features in API development. The pagination helps get an idea of data changes, then informs the data pages still pending. This helps the application programming interface developers in determining the correct amount of data to display at once with its frequency.

The search feature is another critical feature, without it, the API would be considered low-quality and incomplete. This feature allows the options to update, edit and share after the initial data sync. These both are considered to be must-have features from any mobile app development company.

5. Performance Analysis

The hard parts are now out of the way, next comes the performance analysis to see how smoothly everything runs together. Your API development services will use a tool like API that will analyze the performance of external and internal APIs.

6. Apply Caching

The application of caching on the client’s side will allow you to store data for successful requests that will speed up the processing time of your API and save your client or user time because they won’t have to retrieve recently obtained data. 

This not only saves time but as an added benefit it boosts UX, any custom API development company will be able to integrate this feature with ease.

Your API must receive data and resources at rapid speeds. You can have tools implement and perfect this in the API development process to reduce the request cost as the data becomes readily available for consumption within the memory database.

First, your API will receive a request that tells it to get the data, then it can send a cache-control header stating whether or not the data in the replay is cacheable. A header like this can also indicate denote when the requested data is due to expire.

7. Write API Documentation

You will want to hire API developers who will provide you with highly detailed and extensive documentation for your API process and procedure. Meticulous documentation of an API for your mobile app is much more profitable and it also allows the developers to easily interpret and understand the entire process utilizing all of the information to offer a better UX.

Documentation will allow your API development company to shorten the project execution time, boost the technology’s efficiency, all while minimizing the overall cost to develop an API. When it comes to your documentation, the more detailed, the better in many ways.

8. Add Versioning

The need to add versions to your API is only for a public API type. These are meant as ways you can adapt and expand the functions within your API over time simply by updating your current version. 

If you were to build an entirely new API that could add an unnecessary API development cost to your expense reports, but also it would interrupt everything already integrated with it. It is best to update to a newer more advanced version whenever necessary.

A new version allows you to identify particular features and resources revealed by your API,  this allows users to aim suggestions and requests to particular areas of your feature or resource to be updated. 

A good routine to implement is adding the version of the request in your URL or header. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you add backward compatibility features where your API can still work over previous versions as many users do not update their systems right away.

You will want to hire mobile app developers who incorporate a mediation layer to act as a buffer between a single point of updating and the rest of the API so no inconveniences are experienced. 

These layers also act as a way to provide higher security, add scalability, and streamline the developer’s experience.

9. Use Throttling

Application throttling is a great habit to implement for redirecting overflow traffic, backing up APIs, and safeguarding your application programming interface from denial of Service, or DoS, attacks.

Because it redirects traffic, the use of throttling optimizes the API efficiency and increases speed.

Step 4. Testing

Just like every other software, you must test your API development and final product before implementing it in a system or launching it for users. The best use of the API development framework must be to provide you with a good tool for testing. It is best to do both internal and external testing on your system.

Here are some features to confirm for good use during your testing:

  • realistic data has realistic results
  • API functions in isolation
  • Network conditions users may experience 
    • Ie. high traffic, user spikes, etc.
  • simulate errors

Remember not to use live APIs for performance testing.

Step 5. Monitor and Adhere to Feedback

Users are there to help you develop the best experience possible, pay attention to their feedback. Once you collect it, incorporate the required changes into the next iterations of your API.

How Much Does API Development Cost?

Now that we have discussed in-depth the process of how to create an API for your business, let’s talk numbers. Since there are so many different factors that are implemented into the development of an API and every business’s specifications and requirements are vary, the best way to give you an accurate number is by expressing the average and how the cost is calculated.

On average, an API development costs will be around $17,000 to $20,000 to build a simple system. This figure includes detailed documentation, fully-featured, and secured API using the services of experienced mobile app development services.

Furthermore, as stated, many complex factors are added to the equation of creating an API that has high-quality automation tools and UX. The cost to develop an API can be calculated by adding the total number of hours worked on it by the rate of your development team.

Conclusion

Now you have a clear, in-depth understanding of what an API is, how to use them, the benefits of an API, as well as what factors to consider when you hire a mobile app development company. APIs are the imperative need of a successful app. An app providing weather updates must have a reliable source of information in order to determine the best use. While deciding to build an API, first select the tech stack you will use and the team of expert API developers. Practically, any backend developer can also work for the API development, but still, you can hire a reliable API development company for the same.

Above we have discussed a detailed view of how to build an API. Alongside, you need to take care of the tech documentation as well. Good tech documentation ensures the smooth integration and impressive growth of an API. With an API your business will be able to work faster and stronger than before and gain higher-quality experiences and retention rates from your clients and customers.

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