What is API-first Development?

What is API-first Development?

In the digital world, it is common for two applications to work in sync to produce great results! An application programming interface (API) is a piece of technology that empowers two applications to exchange data and functionality.

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What is API-first Development?

API-first is a product-focused approach for developing APIs and it sees the role of APIs as discrete products, rather than integrations included within other systems. While building software products, an API-first approach means that your organization treats APIs with importance, as reusable and easily accessible for client applications. Designing products around an API from the ground up, rather than building a product and adding an API later is the gist of the API-first approach!

APIs are treated as critical business assets, understanding the value they bring to your organization. You can design each of your APIs around a contract written in an API description language for things like consistency, reusability, and extensive interoperability. When you start with an API contract, you can plan the design of your API better and get feedback from stakeholders before writing any code.

Advantages of API-First

Reduce Costs and Time to Market

You can build API services that you can reuse on multiple project with an API-first approach, so development teams don’t have to start entirely from scratch. Developers can reuse the same components on many different projects, saving time.

Multiple APIs can be built simultaneously & you can also accelerate the API development process by using API description documents and third-party automation tools. With automation, you can significantly reduce the time to market of APIs and applications.

Reduce the Risk of Application Failures

Many companies that use an API-first approach to software development also consume their APIs within their organization. While doing this, they learn to make the APIs reliable and consistent. This ensures decreased risk of application failures & the API description documents permit you to create mock APIs to test designs before you start developing them. You can get feedback on your API designs and find problems before deploying the API.

Provide a Great Developer Experience (DX)

The API-first approach offers developers a rewarding and positive experience when using APIs. Using API description documents like OpenAPI, AsyncAPI, and RAML and third-party tools, you can create things like:

  • Style Guides that ensures developers across your organization build consistent APIs.
  • Automatically generate client libraries and SDKs that help developers get started with your APIs more quickly.
  • Create documentation including code snippets or your APIs automatically which helps developers understand your APIs and how they should work.

Future-Proof Applications

With an API-first approach you’re creating individually consumable services. Developers can easily plug specific services into their applications and abandon anything they don’t need. Without disturbing the user experience or rewriting large parts of the application code you can update an API or add a new API.

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