So, you’ve looked through the various benefits of using an API. From this, you’ve decided that an API would be the best course of action for your project. That means the hard bit’s done, right?
Not so fast. Not all API solutions are created equal – some types are better suited to some projects than others. Getting the wrong one could end up hindering your project, rather than helping it.
In this article, we’ll talk about the types of API available. We’ll also consider the differences between them and discuss what you’ll need to consider when choosing between the types of API solutions.
Understanding The API Landscape
API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. They allow different software applications to communicate and interact with each other – accessing and exchanging data easily. Over the years, they’ve played a crucial role in the progress of software development.
As the focus on APIs has expanded, so too has the number of ways businesses can use them. A lot of the extras that you now see when you visit a company’s website are down to an API. From the social media feeds to the Google Maps snippets, and the integrations of payment services like Stripe, APIs are responsible for the ease of modern business.
With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why using an API can elevate any project it’s a part of.
Key Factors in Choosing An API Solution
1. Functionality and Features
You should make sure whatever API you choose matches what your project needs. In doing this, you avoid “shiny object syndrome” – where people focus on new technologies without considering whether they’re useful.
To make sure it’s suitable, you should know the end goal of your project before you even begin. How will an API help this project to be completed faster? What benefits will it bring to the customer?
When these are firmed up, it makes it much easier for you to focus on solutions that cater to what your project really needs, rather than what looks good.
2. Ease of Integration
Ease of integration isn’t just about how well the API fits in with your pre-existing software. Though that is part of it, this also covers the API documentation.
API documentation gives developers important information for integrating and using an API in their projects. It can include information on endpoints, authentication methods, and usage examples, to name a few.
This saves your development team the headaches of having to decipher the API on their own. How the documentation is written is especially important if, like a lot of people, you’re new to the world of API.
If the API documentation is easy to access and the software can integrate with pre-existing systems, you’ll save time and money. That further leads to more streamlined development.
3. Scalability and Performance
Even if you’re not looking to make millions, every business has some kind of growth plan. Because of that, any API that you implement should be similarly flexible. If it’s able to handle more users and data, the benefits are twofold. Not only will it be able to be reused beyond your initial project, but you won’t have to put aside extra time moving to a new system.
4. Security Measures
Ensuring your API can’t be hacked, and private information exposed, is one of the top priorities. When you’re researching APIs, pay close attention to how it describes its security practices.
5. Vendor Reliability and Support
The integration process depends on more than just the API software. Its success or failure has a lot to do with the support your company gets from the software’s vendor.
It’s a similar story to the documentation mentioned earlier. A team new to APIs is likely to need support. So, an unresponsive support function from a vendor can make the best API unworkable. On the other hand, a responsive support system means issues can be promptly dealt with, and ensures your team are constantly upskilling.
APIs can generate huge value for businesses, so it’s not surprising that the decision on which one to use is so big. By considering how the API will fit into your business and team in the short and long term, you can set your project up for success.
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