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API Development: Complete guide to building robust APIs

API Development: Complete guide to building robust APIs

31 May, 2021 by img Rahul Panchal in API Development
API Development: Complete guide to building robust APIs

API Development: Complete guide to building robust APIs

If you happen to be a technology freak or are working in the tech industry, you must have heard the term “API.” At present, unlike in the past, API plays a significant role in the economy. API is present virtually everywhere, and we make use of it regularly. We use API many times in our day-to-day life for various activities like logging on Facebook, booking tickets, making payments through PayPal, etc.

Besides this, you will likewise come across fun APIs like Fun Translations which can translate English to Minion, Dothraki, and Klingon. Moreover, there is Pokémon API which offers all the Pokémon data to you in one single location.

The API world is large and one that ought to be explored. In the following paragraphs, we will mention everything regarding APIs that will come of use to you.

 

What is API?

Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of requirements, instructions, and standards that allow an application to employ services or features of some other device, application, or platform for providing better services.

Technically speaking, it happens to be a collection of programming codes that enables data transmission between one particular software product with another. It likewise comprises terms of this data exchange.

Application programming interfaces have a couple of components:

  • Technical specification depicting data exchange options between solutions having specifications performed as data delivery protocols.
  • Application interface written to the specification representing it.

In this, the application requiring access functionality or information from software calls its API, denoting the specifications as to how the data or the functionality should be provided. The other application just returns data functionality as demanded by the previous application. API likewise denotes the interface using which both applications communicate.

Every API is executed by function calls, which happen to be the language statements used to request software to perform specific actions and services. Functions calls are phrases that consist of verbs and nouns. Function calls are likewise mentioned in the API documentation.

APIs can serve several purposes. In general, they will be able to simplify or speed up application development. Developers make use of APIs for adding functionality to the present solutions from other providers. Moreover, one can also use them for developing new applications by making use of third-party providers.

 

Terminology

APIs are essential for developing mobile apps. For example, iOS and Android APIs enable native apps to access built-in features of devices. Consequently, here we have mentioned some terms that you need to comprehend before looking at the significance of API development.

1. API key

An API key happens to be a code that approves an API request via a parameter or header.

 

2. Endpoint

In an interaction between 2 systems using APIs, one end of the channel has been branded Endpoint.

 

3. JSON

JSON happens to be an abbreviation for JavaScript Object Notion. Being a data format, it is employed for API response body and request parameters.

 

4. Get

It is the HTTP method of the RESTful API for safeguarding resources.

 

5. Post

It is how the HTTP method of RESTful API enables resource building.

 

6. Oauth

Oauth is an abbreviation for Open standard Authorization framework that allows access from the user’s side without sharing any credential.

 

7. Rest

REST (Representational State Transfer) is a kind of architectural implementation for improving communication between various applications. It is based on the concept of making particular info obtainable only when requested via references, rather than an entire copy of the information. World Wide Web happens to be an example of those systems which follow this architecture, and these are known as RESTful systems.

 


Must Read: Differences Between GraphQL and REST


 

8. Soap

SOAP is an abbreviation for Simple Object Access Protocol. This messaging protocol works with application layer protocols such as SMTP and HTTP, and XML information set for message formatting plus transmission and negotiation.

 

9. Latency

Latency happens to be the time consumed by an API for processing the request into a response.

 

10. Rate-limiting

API rate-limiting is considered to be the procedure of identifying the rate at which a user accesses APIs. That is to say, it limits the number of requests to an API per time.

 

11. API throttling

Throttling is referred to as regulating the usage of API every user at a particular time. It takes place when a user exceeds the limit of API requests each day, and the server delivers a message as HTTP status asserting “too many requests.”

 

How does API work?

Let us take an example for comprehending the working of the API. Suppose you have opened an ABC app or website for booking a flight. You filled the form by entering all the particulars such as departure, flight, return date, city, plus other respective information.

After submitting, a list of flights will appear with details such as timings, seat availability, price, in addition to many other particulars. But how did it take place? The APIs are responsible for this.

To provide such accurate information, a request is sent to the website by the platform to access the database and receive all the pertinent information via API. Following this, the website responds with the information which was delivered to the platform through the API.

In this case, the API functions as an intermediate that helps to simplify the process of sharing data. Conversely, the flight booking platform and the airline website function as endpoints. In terms of communicating the endpoints, the API works in various ways, namely, SOAP and REST.

 

API Types

It is possible to classify APIs into four primary types:

 

1. Open APIs

Public APIs or Open APIs are available publicly to any individual without any restriction.

 

2. Partner APIs

Developers require specific rights or licenses for accessing Partner APIs since they’re restricted to the public.

 

3. Internal APIs

These are also called Private APIs. They are comparatively less known to the outside world since they are exposed within internal systems only. Internal APIs are used by an organization between teams for improving its services and products.

 

4. Composite APIs

Composite APIs, combining service APIs and data, are a series of tasks that run concurrently because of execution; however, not at the request of any task. It helps to accelerate the execution procedure and improve the performance of the listeners in web interfaces.

These APIs happen to be the principal APIs and are known as Web APIs. Other APIs consist of web service APIs such as XML-RPC, SOAP, JSON-RPC, and REST.


Must Read: Top 10 iOS Libraries For Developers


 

Why are APIs essential for businesses?

If there were no APIs in this world, app functionality would become limited, and the time taken for development would also increase significantly. This is because features that aren’t modules of any programming language would need to be created autonomously; thus, reducing time for marketing.

Moreover, comprehending how to create an API likewise aids in combining a couple of dissimilar applications, so they complement one another, uplifting the user experience in the long run for both. For instance, a hotel selection service app can use external APIs for cataloging photographs of their rooms, thus enabling users to see the locations before booking.

On the other hand, the photo service can use APIs to provide its users with the opportunity to find and book hotel rooms; thus, improving the travel apps’ functionality.

That being said, here are several benefits of API development for companies.

 

Why are APIs beneficial for businesses?

1. Top-quality experience

APIs aid in enriching app functionality, thus helping to improve an application’s user experience. Some API applications that businesses can make use of include data collection, personalization, plus integration.

 

2. Innovative technologies

With the invention of application architecture such as IoT devices, cloud services, and AI, APIs have become integral to any app development company.

 

3. Reduced expenses and time to market

For companies, one significant benefit of an API-driven approach happens to be the reduced time for development, which helps to speed up the time for marketing in the long run. Comprehending that most app functionalities exist elsewhere, it will be possible for the developers to use APIs to integrate external features within the application without any need to code from scratch.

In this way, entrepreneurs will be able to save their money and time, while developers will be able to offer unique functionality via their apps.

 

API Development Tools

Lots of tools are available when it comes to the development of API. Several of the leading tools and products used by developers for API development happen to be as follows:

 

1. Apigee

Apigee happens to be an API development management tool that Google has created. It helps a company update its legacy apps or facilitate the transfer of information between applications and services. Besides this, it also enables a developer to build connected apps.

 

2. Dredd

This one is an HTTP API testing framework used to validate an API’s description in the backend. It likewise goes through the description of API comprehensively together with figuring out whether the API has been validated or not.

 

3. APIMatic

It is a developer experience platform intended for website APIs. Developers make use of it for generating SDKs for their APIs. Additionally, it’s likewise used for keeping it in sync with API updates.

APIMatic likewise allows the developers to transform API descriptions into more than one format, such as Swagger, WADL, RAML, IO Docs, OAI format, HAR 1.4, API Blueprint, Postman Collections, and so on.

 

4. Sandbox

Sandbox provides an easy and quick mock RESTful API from API definitions. It likewise aids in reducing the cost and risk associated with 3rd-party API calling at the time of testing.

 

5. Postman

This tool allows app developers to assess the API’s performance by documenting as well as testing it. It’s likewise an interactive tool that one can set up for automation.

 

6. SoapUI

SoapUI is considered to be an open-source testing API development tool. It has the capability of operating on cross-platforms. Moreover, it will also be able to automate functional as well as non-functional tests. It is used for compliance, regression, security, executing, plus load tests for Web APIs.

 

7. Swagger

Swagger happens to be an open-source framework used for API development. GettyImages, PayPal, Apigee, Microsoft, and other big technology names use Swagger at present.

 

8. JMeter

This tool is an open-source application. It’s employed in RESTful API’s performance testing.

 


Also Read: Top 3 JavaScript Testing Frameworks with their Pros and Cons


 

Best API Development Practices

Below, we have mentioned the best practices to bear in mind while investing in API development.

 

1. Use throttling

If you need to backup APIs, redirect traffic overflow, or protect APIs from DoS attacks, then App throttling should be practiced.

 

2. Think of API gateway as an enforcer

The API gateway should be considered an enforcement point that assures that the information is accessible to the appropriate users. It will allow you to encrypt confidential information or messages that can aid in evaluating and managing the usage of your APIs in the long run.

 

3. Allow superseding HTTP method

Some proxies will work only with POST and GET methods, allowing your RESTful API to supersede the HTTP method.

 

4. Assess the APIs plus infrastructure

Some API development tools enable easy analysis as well as assessment of APIs. This implies that you will analyze in real-time rather than having developers laboring 24 hours a day.

 

5. Documentation

Extensive documentation should be created while creating an API. It will help other developers comprehend the process conveniently and use the API to improve the experience of their apps.

 

Conclusion

Let us hope that these pointers mentioned above will help you understand what API development is and develop an API.

APIs are important if you want to market your app within a quicker time while improving its user experience. It will be possible for companies to leverage advanced technologies employing APIs, reduced cost of development, and enriched experience.

On the other hand, developers will enjoy automated workflow updates through APIs, which happens to be more productive and quicker. Besides this, it helps to increase the effectiveness of operations and allows personalization plus flexible service facility.

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Rahul Panchal

Rahul Panchal is a Founder and Managing Director of Rlogical Techsoft Pvt. Ltd, a web & mobile app development company India specialized in Hybrid, Native, Android and iOS App development.

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