Essential Underlying Considerations for Setting up APIs
Application development has become a multi-billion market in a span of about a decade, thanks especially to the rapid rise in the adoption of mobile devices. The ever-increasing demand for applications gave birth to yet another domain — application programming interface (API), a collection of tools that simplify and expedite the process of application development. It has been such a boon for application developers that became an outright hit, and today, API itself has become a major driver of profitability across domains. As an increasing number of businesses continue to enter this domain, here are four underlying considerations for setting up a useful API.
1. Knowledge of the audience
Knowledge of the audience is the prerequisite for almost everything that is done strategically. The significance of knowing ones audience base is not exclusive to any particular industry or domain. Before developing anything that is to be used by a set of people, developers need to be well aware of the needs and concerns of those people. In fact, knowledge of the audience becomes a necessity right at the strategy stage, even before development. Same is true in the case of setting up an API.
APIs are released to facilitate application development. However, applications can be utterly simple ones, such as those for fun, as well as ultra-complex ones that have critical functions. Obviously, the level of expertise of the developers of such different kinds of apps varies. Therefore, a clear understanding of the kind of developers who are most likely to use the API, and the types of apps that can be built using it, is imperative for developing an API.
Total beginners can start with analyzing relevant APIs that are available in the market and considered among the best. Most APIs are simple to understand. Keen analyses of the top ones will provide considerable insight regarding how to go about it. Developers’ communities help in the next. As real developers share the challenges that they face and what would really help them, it ensures that the API would indeed be useful for a considerable number of developers rather than be just one of herd.
2. Maximum facilitation for developers
As said earlier, the purpose of APIs is to facilitate application development. Therefore, they should make the task of application developers as much easier as it can be made. APIs can also platforms that provision only a number of basic application development tasks, but they certainly cannot be considered good ones. The target of API developers should be to meet every expectation of the application developers. In fact, the best and most-used ones are those that exceed the expectations of the developer community. Developing an API is in itself reason enough to strive for pushing the limits of making application development easier.
For instance, an API that requires every developer to build his/her own layer for user authentication or Open Authentication (OAuth) layer is still an API according to the definition. However, such an API certainly leaves too much to be done by the developers. Hence, developers are not able to get optimum benefit from such an API. Indeed, making APIs that cater to the needs to developers optimally pushes API developers to the extreme, but that is what it is all about.
3. Shortening time to productivity
An integral part of the buzz surrounding API economy is decreasing the time to productivity. The whole idea of API is to make application development easier and quicker. In other words, it aims at making developers achieve productivity quickly, and provision of resources plays a crucial role in that. For a API to be considered one of the best, the number of resources that provides becomes a major factor.
Resources can be anything that brings productivity one step closer to developers. A good example is samples of codes for various functionalities. For instance, a sample code for inserting cart or invoice can highlight the richer and deeper features of the API, enabling developers to harness the potential of the API to the fullest. There is a wide scope for what and how much API builders can provide to application developers. On the same line, including human assistance to highlight the API and its capability can deliver unexpectedly impressive results.
4. Delivering value
API strategies have to have explicit value proposition. At the end of the day, the value of any product, especially in the B2B domain, is directly proportional to the value to promises for its users. Fortunately, there are numerous case studies of success that reveal how APIs increased the time spent by users on apps, and so on.