Are you new to the world of app development? If so, you may have never heard of terms like “app API” before.
It may be a foreign phrase, but it’s an important one to understand. After all, an app API can revolutionize the app development process and help you take your business to a new level.
If you’re never heard of an API before, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know, including the basic steps required to make your own API.
What Is an API?
The term “API” is short for Application Programming Interface.
An API is a software intermediary. It is a collection of tools, protocols, and subroutines that allow multiple applications to interact with one another.
APIs can be custom-built or purchased from other developers or providers.
If you’re still feeling a little confused about what an API is, perhaps some examples will help. The following are some well-known examples of APIs that can provide a bit more context:
Facebook’s API is one of the most popular and most frequently used mobile APIs. App developers and users both use it regularly (although, on the users’ end, they likely don’t even realize it!).
Facebooks’ API allows mobile apps to access Facebook users’ profile information. It also uses Facebook users’ social connections.
With the Facebook API, mobile apps can post activities and accomplishments on a user’s Facebook feed. They can also make the login process easier for users and save them from having to remember so many different passwords.
Facebook’s API is one of the most convenient and powerful options out there. It’s no wonder it’s so popular.
The Twitter API is another popular one for mobile app developers and app users.
It’s quite similar to the Facebook API, as it allows users to make posts to Twitter from another mobile app. It can also be used for logins and account creation on other apps and websites.
Google Maps API is another well-known option. Unlike the two mentioned above, though, it’s not free to use.
Those who want to take advantage of this API will have to pay Google to utilize its mapping and location-tracking services. Many app developers are willing to pay, though, to be able to give users access to location information, directions, and other features that get them in the door of a specific business.
Google’s mapping services are actually split into 4 different APIs: Directions, Static Maps, Distance Matrix, and Street View Image. This split allows developers to pick and choose the specific tracking services they want to use.
Benefits of APIs
APIs offer lots of benefits to developers, clients, and consumers. The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits they provide:
Easier App Development
One of the biggest advantages of APIs is the fact that they make a developer’s job easier.
APIs free the developer up to focus on the app’s main features. They also save the developer from having to create everything from scratch. Since they provide a framework or set of shortcuts, so to speak, this saves developers from having to try and reinvent the wheel.
More Efficient App Development
Because APIs simplify the app development process, they can also make it more efficient.
For entrepreneurs who are looking to update their app or get it to market as quickly as possible, APIs are a great option. They provide access to various components and make content creation, publishing, sharing, and distribution much easier.
APIs can access various components of different apps. This allows for a higher level of flexibility when it comes to accessing information and delivering services.
An API increases the personalization of services and information, too. With an API, you can more easily distribute personalized content to a new audience and create a customized user experience.
Easier App Integration
With the help of an API, developers can embed content from other applications more easily. This allows for faster and smoother information delivery. It also creates a more integrated and streamlined user experience.
Increased App Functionality and Customer Satisfaction
All of these benefits lead to a more functional app. When apps can integrate with other platforms and streamline the user experience, it’s more likely that people will be satisfied with them and continue using them regularly.
Types of APIs
There are a few different types of APIs you can use to access data from other applications and experience the benefits listed above. The following are some of the most popular:
Open APIs are also known as Public APIs. As the name suggests, there are no restrictions when it comes to accessing these types of APIs. Anyone can use them.
To use partner APIs, a developer will need to get specific rights or licenses. These types of APIs aren’t publicly available, and a developer may have to do some haggling to get access to one.
Internal APIs are also known as Private APIs. They can only be exposed by internal systems.
Internal APIs are typically designed for internal use within a specific company. The company will use this API across various internal teams to improve the products and services it creates and sells.
Composite APIs combine several data and service APIs. This type of API is a sequence of tasks that all run synchronously. They’re mainly used to speed up the execution process and to improve the app or website performance.
Web Service APIs
Web service APIs use an address or URL on the internet to provide access to specific services. Examples of webs service APIs include:
- SOAP (short for Simple Object Access Protocol): A protocol that uses XML to define message structure and communication methods
- XML-RPC: A protocol that uses a specific XML format for data transfer
- JSON-RPC: A similar protocol to XML-RPC, but it uses JSON format to transfer data instead of XML
- REST (Representational State Transfer): This is not a protocol but rather a set of architectural principles that are driven by data, rather than by function
How to Make an API
Are you thinking about developing a custom API? If you prefer this approach to buying one that another developer has created, here are some steps you’ll need to take:
The first part of the API building process is the preparation stage. During this stage, the developer will determine domain semantics, choose an API architectural style, and establish a style guide.
Domain semantics provide clarity and help the developer to specify all the terms used in the API. The architectural style, on the other hand, can help or hinder the API’s functionality and scalability, so the developer needs to choose one that meets their needs and goals.
As for the style guide, it also helps to eliminate confusion and create conventions. It will streamline processes in the future and make the following stages much easier.
Designing and Creating a Prototype
Now, it’s time to start designing the API and creating a prototype.
During this stage, the developer will get clear on how they want the API to look. They’ll also create its stub implementation (a mockup of the actual API) and verify it with their team to ensure everything works properly and looks right.
Once the prototype has been finalized and approved, the developer can move on to actually creating the API using the designs from the previous stage. This phase involves a lot of hard work and testing to ensure the API works correctly.
Implementation and Deployment
Once the developer and their team are satisfied with the API, they’ll be ready to implement and deploy it. This gives them a chance to see how it works “in the wild.”
When deploying an API, it’s always recommended that developers include operational and functional monitoring processes. This allows them to check in on the health and functionality of the API. It also aids in the final phase, Analysis.
This stage involves analyzing and assessing the API to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a crucial step that allows the development team to collect feedback, finetune their API, and make plans for future updates and improvements.
Should You Hire a Pro?
Do you want a custom API? Does the idea of making your own API seem daunting?
If you’re new to the world of development and aren’t ready to take the plunge with your API, you may want to consider working with a professional rather than buying a pre-made one.
Hiring a pro to help with your API development gives you a chance to buy back some of your time. As an entrepreneur, you know how valuable your time is. Why spend it on tasks that you don’t enjoy or don’t know how to do?
Working with a professional also ensures that your API will be developed correctly the first time around. This can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
A professionally made, custom API will also simplify the implementation process and increase the likelihood that you’ll see a great return on your investment.
How to Choose an API
What if you decide that you’d rather buy or use a pre-made API? That’s great, too! It can also be confusing trying to find the right fit for your needs, though.
If you’re looking for an API that works for you, here are some factors to keep in mind:
Start by making sure the API does everything you need it to do.
Does it offer all the features you need and are looking for? If not, are you willing to make sacrifices in exchange for using this particular API?
Don’t just assume that they all do the same thing and hope for the best.
Is the documentation associated with the API as comprehensive as you’d like?
Does it come with clear examples? Are all the parameters well-outlined and explained?
Ideally, the documentation will also give you an idea of how the implementation of the API will look and function.
Data formatting can tell you a lot about how old the API is and how functional it is.
For example, XML used to be the most popular option. However, JSON is more common these days since it’s considered by many to be lighter and easier to use.
Consider what you prefer before making a final decision.
Look at the documentation to get a sense of the API’s interface? Is it visually appealing and to your liking? Are the parameter and method names clear?
Every API has its limits, especially those that are publicly available. These limits prevent abuse and may also be put in place to motivate you to upgrade your account and invest in a different, more expensive variation.
Keep in mind, too, that when you purchase an API, you’ll likely also receive an API key, which is a unique identification code. The key allows the API developer to ensure the API isn’t being used inappropriately.
Be sure to ask about this and consider the limits and security regulations of each API before deciding if it’s a good fit for you.
Where can you turn if you run into problems with your API? Is there a robust community of users who can answer questions and point you in the right direction if needed?
Does the provider offer more direct support? What’s their reputation like when it comes to answering questions or addressing problems?
Get answers to all these questions before proceeding. That way, you won’t end up with an API that’s riddled with issues that no one can help you fix.
Create an App API Today
Now you know, app APIs are essential to your app’s functionality. You might still need some guidance when it comes to making an API, though.
Do you need help creating an app API? Do you have other pressing app development questions?
Either way, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our services or get a quote.