Know everything about API development

An API (Application Programming Interface) serves as an intermediary between two independent information systems regardless of the programming language used. APIs allow developers to develop applications in an easier way. Discover in this article to Know everything about API development- the interface that has become essential in the world of web development.

What is an API Development?

Behind the acronym, API hides a programming interface that allows separate applications to communicate with each other and exchange services or data. An API makes available the functionalities of an existing tool, which simplifies the process of developing your application or website.

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The different types of Web APIs

The different types of Web APIs are:

  • Open APIs: Open or external, or public APIs are the most flexible. They make it easy for developers and users to access data.
  • Partner APIs: More secure than public APIs; only registered servers can access information.
  • Internal APIs: Internal or private APIs enable communication within an organization. They are subject to authentication protocols to verify the identity of employees using the system.
  • Composite APIs: Robust, this API can support several integration systems.

API protocols

There are two main API protocols:

  • The REST or Representational State Transfer takes care of managing the transfer of documents. The client side and the server side are independent of each other.
  • SOAP: it is a very old protocol that makes it possible to strongly structure messages and communication methods via the Web Services Definition Language (WSDL).

What are the benefits of an API?

Time-saving- The development process is simplified; developers can use existing services, which saves them from redeveloping them to integrate them into your application.

Security- Thanks to the security and control of data exchanges, it is possible to have access to the number of connections to the API, to the people who have connected, and by what means.

Interoperability- APIs facilitate the transfer and exchange of data. These can be cross-referenced, exploited, and fed permanently in a simplified and homogeneous way on different software.

Standardization- Your processes are simplified, and APIs allow separate systems using different technologies to work together.

Keys to successfully develop an API.

API Development guide requires taking into account a number of parameters. Here are three key steps to follow to facilitate the process.

Have the right semantics- The most important thing is to have the right semantics. If this may seem vague at first glance, it is, above all, a question of identifying the correct naming, the correct parameters, the structure of the data thus passed, the use of HTTP headers, and the conventions that surround all this. However, the basic principles of REST interfaces are often subject to interpretation by designers. And in fact, the quality of these interpretations ends up being very subjective. This is especially true for the naming of endpoints and for the use of parameters and data structures.

The name of these endpoints represents the most visible part of an API and conveys more design information than any other function. Whether this endpoint is called per resource, process, or medium, the API will be much better understood if the convention is applied consistently. In a large company, the only way to achieve this level of consistency is to put conventions in place and have them applied by all development teams. This certainly requires a great effort in terms of management, almost as much as that made in development.

Then come the problems related to the naming of parameters and data structures. Interfaces all have different data requirements. Here again, conventions are useful. If the naming is “SomeAPIDoThis” and “SomeOtherDoThis,” the APIs are less understandable. The same also applies to parameters and data structures. In this regard, NetFlix and Twitter offer several convincing examples.

Discovery and documentation- Even if the design of your APIs is good and the conventions are applied consistently; your developments will be of little use if they are not accompanied by a guide to functions and a way to explore the different endpoints. Fortunately, we have Swagger, a tool for developing and testing APIs.

Swagger is actually a specification that allows you to describe a RESTful API in a structured way, using JSON or YAML as description languages. Surrounding this specification are a set of tools for controlling markers and generating HTML documentation.

One of the key points of Swagger is model validation. You define the data structures returned by endpoints during the API documentation process. You can document fields, whether required or optional, as well as value ranges and constraints. You can also rely on some libraries to validate incoming data at runtime and return error information if the validation fails. This saves time and ensures that the code works on entry.

Access and testing- One of the first hurdles encountered when getting started with an API is understanding how it works. No matter how well described and trained, the API should be tested early in the development process. One of the key tools in this area is Postman, an extension to the Chrome browser. Postman allows you to define collections of endpoints with URLs, parameters, headers, and data that should be executed. Once defined, an endpoint can be run with a single click, and the performance of the call evaluated.

There are many things to consider in API Design and Development. One of the most structuring deals with version control. But by following the methods listed in this article, you will be able to create suitable APIs that are visible and can be easily tested. In the end, this will allow you to avoid API management chaos.

Wrapping it up

Developing an API is a difficult operation that relies on a number of very subjective indicators. Even a start-up, which has adopted the design principles of RESTful APIs, and in addition to a global vision of the problem, risks being confronted with inconsistent naming, obscure interfaces, or poorly documented functions. The effects can be much more severe for a large company with multiple in-house development teams and often lead to API siloing. Therefore, rely on professionals like Wama Technology to avoid falling into this trap.

At Wama Technology, we regularly use APIs. Whether to enrich your tools with new functionalities (payment module, data integration, electronic signature, calculator, etc.) or to exchange data with your partners, we integrate and configure the API you need.