Developing API’s - Considerations for delivery in an Integration Landscape
APIs are some of the most valuable tools in an developer’s toolbox, but there can be some challenges to implementation. Let’s take a look at how you can stand up an API, what some of the building out standards are and how you can start implementing APIs with multiple consumers and providers.
What Is an API?
An API, or application program interface, is “a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications.” In other words, an API tells other programs how to interact with one another and is the building blocks of other programs.
Examples of APIs
There are different examples of APIs that serve different functions. For example:
• YouTube API: developers are able to integrate YouTube videos into their website’s infrastructure. Advanced development is necessary for app integration.
• Amazon API: Developers use this API to integrate Amazon products into their website so that they can monetize the products for themselves.
The Inherent Challenges of Integration Architecture
APIs, most commonly REST APIs, are a great method of integrating systems, but there are challenges and pitfalls to building out an API COE.
Stephanie Mann of Tech Target says that as developers continue to leverage REST-based APIs, the challenges of integration architecture will be overcome. To wit, “enterprise architects and developers are turning to lighter-weight infrastructure to support more complex integration projects. The emergence of REST-based APIs and service-oriented cloud and mobile apps characterize a new style of application integration.”
Put another way, the biggest challenge is to make sure that the program that’s developed becomes functional across all platforms.
Best Practices for API Development and Build-Out
How can you develop an API that meets the proper standard of best practices?
• Make sure that your API is stable. An unstable API is an unusable API.
• Make sure that your API provides a valuable service to its user. A non-valuable API is an unusable API.
• Make sure that you, as the developer of the API, have a business model to follow for profitability.
• Make sure that your API is simple, flexible and easily adopted. By giving your API these simple characteristics, you’ll be able to get it to integrate, not only within your system but within other systems that wish to use it as well.
• Make sure that your API comes with developer support. Without this, you’ll never be able to interest third parties into integrating your development.
Implementing API’s with Multiple Consumers and Providers
The following is a list of best practices in order to implement APIs with multiple consumers and providers.
• Focus on data security while streamlining user interaction. An easily developed prototype can easily be implemented across consumers and providers.
• Whenever possible, use open-source and cloud-ready solutions. This will make it easier for other developers to make edits to the program, not only as needed, but to make it so that they can edit the base API to integrate into their own platform.
In conclusion, “API management tools still form an emerging market in spite of the large number of competitors already in play. The challenge is not one of insufficient supply, but of unregulated creation of API solutions which do not take cognizance of each other’s offerings.”