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API Management 4 min

API-first Development

How your business becomes limitless with an API-first approach

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
API First Development
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Gone are the days where keeping your business close to the chest was the only route to success. Transparency and open-source are calling for a different way forward. Open Banking and Open Healthcare are living proof that entire industries can rapidly iterate their inner workings. New growth opportunities arise when companies opt for an API-first approach. Welcome to this deeper exploration into the benefits of an API-first Development.

Open Banking and Open Healthcare point to a new dawn

In a recent blog on Open Healthcare, we showed that with the rise of APIs in Healthcare a new dawn breaks. The API-first approach is changing the entire landscape. And for good reason. We live in a world where the seams between the real and the virtual are intertwining. The Internet of Things makes it possible for devices to communicate and act directly to the needs of our personal and professional lifestyle. And flawless, realtime interoperability between devices and systems is becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. In some cases, lives are dependent on it.

In that light, organizations across all industries would do well to pay close attention to the opportunities that come with an API-first approach. It is a much-needed boost to business.

Designing and building with the bridge in mind

API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. An API connects two pieces of software and allows requests and responses to move effortlessly back and forth. The API acts as a translator that makes sure the right bit of information passes through in order for the two systems to execute accurately. 

An example often used is that of a waiter in a restaurant, where the API acts as a connecting element between the customer (the front-end experience) and the kitchen (the back-end requests). 

With the waiter in the restaurant the customer doesn’t need to check with the kitchen if their order went in. And the kitchen uses the waiter in return so that it can deliver a complete dish to the customer (instead of presenting raw ingredients).

So what then is API-first?

When it comes to programming, the status quo used to be ‘code-first’. This meant that developers would first write the code of the software’s functionality and in a later stage figure out how that software should communicate to other systems. 

The red flag in this approach is no two pieces of software are alike. And it requires tinkering with code and bootstrapping a bridge between the two. You can see how that is a resource-heavy and time-consuming approach. Because as you scale up, you need to rebuild that bridge from scratch.

Dev teams found out the hard way that it matters not how a piece of software is built but whether it can communicate with both sides fluently. 

In a cloud-based environment where millions of applications and features are interesting add-ons to your business, it is essential that you give priority to an effortless flow of information. API-first approach means that the bridge is always built first. By creating the connecting piece – the API – you can easily stitch it together with whatever software you have on either side.

The five benefits of API-first development

Okay, so we’ve figured out that building bridges is smarter when it comes to aiming for smooth interoperability and integration. But what exactly are the benefits of API-first development?

1. Faster time to market

API-first development basically lets you create bridges like lego blocks. These pre-built connectors speed up your entire development process. Because you can reuse the same structure with simply adjusting the connecting points so that it matches your software. API-first development reduces development costs significantly. You’ll have a faster time to market meaning bottom line competitive advantage.

2. Fault tolerable

A while back we wrote about ESBs vs Microservices and the significance of a fault tolerable integration. The Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is a monolithic application approach to integration. One of the main problems with it is that it’s very hard to scale. In the event that you’d want to adjust one particular functionality of the ESB, it requires the entire ESB to be updated and rebuilt.  In other words it has a Single Point of Failure (SPOF). With an API-first approach this is never an issue as each API can be built and adjusted separately without it affecting the entire system.

3. Compatibility increase

If a bridge is always approached in the same way, then that means you can connect it to endless new roads, meaning the compatibility increases. Going with an API-first development it is vital that your API-documentation is on point. Swagger and API blueprint are examples of tools that support standard formatting of APIs. Because you’d want your teams to know how to build and document different APIs to create a reusable log of use cases.

4. Omnichannel experience

One of the core benefits of APIs is that they create a seamless customer experience (CX). We live in a day and age where customers (whether B2C or B2B) demand a flawless digital experience across all channels and devices. API-first gives you the power to seamlessly connect different tools, giving way to an unmatched omnichannel experience.

5. Rapid Innovation

As we mentioned, API-first greatly reduces your time-to-market. And in addition, you get to rapidly iterate and innovate. API-first works particularly well in cloud development, allowing for rapid prototyping and facilitating automated deployment testing and continuous delivery pipelines.

Ready to lead with API-first development?

With an API-first approach you have the key to digital transformation in hand. APIs make collaboration easier, create new avenues for business and can disrupt entire industries for the better. If you’d like to know more about how you can shape the best integration strategy with API-first development in mind, contact us at Yenlo, or take a look at your possible integration solutions. We are here to help.

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