Why Your Web Technology Stack Should be API-first

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Web APIs have been around for nearly two decades, but the concept of "API-first" has only recently gained momentum with software developers. Today, the number of developers that design products based on APIs are rising due to the increasing demand for the system’s functionality and interconnected nature. This article will introduce you to the basics of API-first technology and why they are becoming increasingly popular throughout the developer community.

What does API-first mean?

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of functions that allows a program to interface with other programs, operating systems, microservices, or data. APIs, in other words, enable software to "talk to" and interact with one another.

Software companies frequently add APIs to their platforms. This option can help with automation and integration, and it gives users access to some of the software's fundamental capabilities, but not all of it.

On the other hand, an API-first solution turns this paradigm around. API-first development prioritizes APIs above pre-built or prescriptive software solutions or experiences. Thus, API-first development ensures that users access all of the platform's features via the API.

Why choose API-first solutions in general?

An API-first solution to product development has numerous advantages, including but not limited to:

App development costs are reduced

You can apply APIs and code to a variety of projects. When a development team wants to create a custom solution, they will not have to start from the ground up, which is time-consuming and expensive. API-first architecture also allows the majority of problems to get handled before any code is created, which helps avoid issues when integrating APIs with applications.

However, for standard solutions such as a basic eCommerce shop, using a pre-built template will usually cost less than an API-first approach. So, an API-first approach works great for a special purpose or more complex application, but other approaches can be simpler when you only require a simple solution.

Development teams can work side-by-side

Using API-first necessitates the creation of a contract. An API contract describes and dictates how an API is supposed to behave. This documentation is used by the consumers of the API to determine how the API can be used. Having teams throughout an organization follow an agreement across services allows them to work on several APIs simultaneously. Moreover, developers are not required to wait for an API update before moving on to the next API. Based on the specified API definition, teams can mimic APIs and test API dependencies.

The risk of failure gets minimized

APIs lower the risk of failure by ensuring that they are dependable, consistent, and simple to use by developers. This allows systems to communicate with each other. With an API-first approach, you minimize the risk of failure when designing and developing how your systems will communicate with each other as these communications will be dictated by the API.

On the other hand, an API-first approach can result in more work when creating a UI for the overall solution. Typically, on top of developing the actual application, developers also need to build a UI for API-first services.

Who should use API-first software?

As the adoption of omnichannel accelerated, the API-first approach rose in prominence. There have never been more methods to interact with an application than there are now: the web, mobile, linked devices, among many others. As a result, the API-first approach is ideal for sales, marketing, and IT organizations of all sizes and industries.

API-first SaaS providers like Contentful, Cloudinary, and Commercetools enable businesses to develop apps that work across all channels and grow when more channels get introduced without creating new solutions for each one.

Furthermore, an API-first approach to e-commerce allows a company more control over the shopping experience and the potential to construct a cutting-edge technological stack that will keep their company functioning throughout time.

Why should my content management system (CMS) be API-first?

No CMS is as fast or straightforward as an API-first CMS when implementing and deploying modifications to a Content Management System. Because the CMS is distinct from any custom code, continuous deployment and other agile development approaches may be utilized to swiftly update and roll back changes without causing scheduled downtime or risking the entire content management platform malfunctioning.

Why should my digital asset management solution (DAM) be API-first?

In contrast to a user interface that allows people to access a DAM, an API-first solution enables computer programs to access a DAM. Developers can use a DAM's API to construct unique interfaces with business applications, allowing them to utilize their DAM's visual, video, and document assets as well as media processing tools in other IT systems.

Why should my eCommerce solution be API-first?

Because eCommerce is so complex, each customer's needs and requirements will differ when developing an eCommerce application. Fortunately, businesses can create a custom solution and integrate it with any technology that provides the functionality their consumers require using API-first technology.

Conclusion

An API-first approach to product development can benefit your company by reducing the costs of developing custom solutions, allowing development teams to work side-by-side, and reducing the risks of system communication failures. However, the API-first process will only be as successful once you adhere to its critical requirement: teams must plan, organize, and agree on a cohesive vision of their API program. It also necessitates the use of tools that support an API-first strategy.

Finding the right tools for an API-first approach to developing custom solutions can be challenging. Consider Bright in this regard. We are a digital agency with the marketing and technology expertise needed to create truly original and forward-thinking websites, web applications, and online stores. With Bright, the future of your business will shine.