Building Powerful APIs — Developing a successful API Program, Design & Architecture-Part 1

Powerful APIs

We are living in an API-centric world — it’s how we interact with that data. Gartner claimed we live in the API economy back in 2016, and since then, the world’s only become more data-driven.

When companies have access to data and functions via APIs, it empowers them to make smarter decisions, improve customer satisfaction, drive innovation, and identify new areas of business. In fact, many businesses have identified APIs as their largest enabler of digital transformation strategies.

Characteristics of Powerful APIs

  • Built for future — Scalable For Any Business
  • Safe & Secure — Built to eliminate any fraud / leak
  • Developer friendly
  • Plug & Play for effective implementation
  • Organized and Documented — Well documented process for easy implementation

Why do we need Powerful APIs?

1. Our Digital Enablers — “It’s not what they are: It’s what they enable”

APIs can be a new business channel to offer monetized access data and services — Ex: Twillio. Well documented, usable APIs allow our partners to onboard themselves in record time.

Having customers and partners access services through API creates a digital feedback loop, allowing real time analysis of user behavior.

Also it will open up new avenues for outsourced innovation like the Netflix API platform.

Offering services through APIs is the best way to provide consistent digital experience across all channels — Ex: Capital One

2. Connect with customers

An effective API can give existing and potential customers new reasons to interact with a business and connect with it on a personal level — and to share their experiences with others.

By making the internal data publicly accessible through an API, the company unleashes the creativity of developers and related businesses to devise new uses for the data.

3. Streamline Operations

Private APIs can help an organization to streamline the operations. Example — An insurance company’s private APIs can easily access data that will help them process customer claims more quickly.

API Program / Design / Architecture Concepts

Adoption of “API First” approach along with Microservices Architecture maximizes the delivery speed, system stability and scalability.

Developing a Successful API Program

Developing an API program is a significant undertaking that can have a profound impact on your organization. Because it can drive new products, new innovation, new customers, and new revenue streams, it’s not a task to take lightly. The organizations that establish a comprehensive API strategy, whether the APIs are being consumed internally or externally, are the most successful.

For starters, you need to plan your API strategy like it’s a new business. That includes:

  • Aligning to the business goals
  • Identifying supporting technology
  • Measuring performance
  • Engaging your ecosystem

Aligning the business goals with the API program is important, as is identifying the appropriate use of technology and supporting architectures.

KPIs are for measuring the success of the API program and ensuring that it is meeting the goals of the business. And engaging the ecosystem is important, whether this is for external API consumers or even internal API developers.

It is important to know and understand your audience, what capabilities they need, how to support this audience, and how to build an effective communication plan for your program.

“You need to consider building and delivering a successful API strategy that is technology-agnostic”

API Design

It refers to the process of developing APIs that expose data and application functionality for use by developers and users. More specifically API design is the process of constructing the blueprint for the API.

API’s design is a solid blueprint and API development is a continuous process. There is not a single approach to design APIs “the right way.

API Architecture

It refers to the process of developing a software interface that exposes backend data and application functionality for use in new applications. It is the collection of planning and architectural decisions.

API First Approach

It is a design strategy for a company’s entire product line, where APIs are the basis of every product instead of being a separate side product. When developing cloud-native applications, “API First” is a core principle.

APIs are no longer just an extension of an existing tool or website. Instead, APIs have become products in their own right — APIs are often created independently of other digital tools or resources. This is known as API-first design, and it’s becoming more and more prevalent.

It’s simply where a developer creates an API and then creates other digital tools and resources around it.

Some examples of API-first design include:

  • Creating an API before a website
  • Creating an API before an app
  • Creating an API before integrating with a system
  • Creating an API before syncing with a database

Benefits of API First Design

  1. Faster Development time — An API-first design means the developers are thinking about every stage of an API rather than just endlessly tacking on endpoints. APIs are also modular and often reusable, so once your API begins to come together, you can use it in other API-centric projects.
  2. More Adoption — API-first design facilitates clean, well-written, and thoroughly documented APIs, making it much faster and easier to onboard developers so they can get started using the API.

Engineering Leader,Cloud Architect, Data Science

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