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The Principles of API-First Development

Ever since the world was introduced to the concept of representational state transfer and RESTful systems back in 2000, software developers have been using REST APIs in the custom software development projects more and more through the years. Application programming interface (API)is a piece of technology that allows two applications to exchange data and functionality. And it wasn't until this last decade that things really picked up with cloud computing and virtual engineering that the idea of "API-first" development really started to take hold. 

a graphic of computer and other office components representing api first development

As the world increasingly moves online, savvy businesses of all sizes need to be API-first in their development and integrations to stay competitive and adapt more quickly to innovation and consumer demand. API-first development is a term that refers to the practice of designing and building an API before creating the user interface or application that will use it. Say you have an eCommerce website and want to integrate another company's search functionality. Their search API lets your website and their hosted search engine exchange data and functionality. When a user types a query, your website sends a request to their servers and their servers send the response back — all via the API. This API request-response exchange is how developers can deliver outstanding search and discovery experiences without building the technology from scratch. In this blog post, we'll discuss the principles of API-first development that small businesses should keep in mind.

1. Design for Your Users, Not Yourself

When you're designing an API, it's important to think about who will be using it and what they need from it. It's tempting to design an API that's easy for you to use, but if it's not easy for your users, they're not going to use it. Keep your users' needs in mind when you're designing your API, and make sure it's easy for them to use.

2. Version Your API from the Start

If you're not versioning your API from the start, you're going to have a lot of problems down the line. When you make changes to your API, you need to be able to release new versions so that your users can continue to use your API. Versioning your API from the start will make it easier to release new versions later on.

3. Use a Standard Format

When you're designing your API, you should use a standard format for your data. This will make it easier for your users to parse and interpret the data from your API. A standard format will also make it easier to develop for other applications that will use or integrate your API.

4. Document Your API

If you want people to use your API, as always, it's important to document everything! Documentation should include a description of what your API does, how to use it, and what data formats it uses. Documentation will make it easier for people to use your API and understand how it works no matter what version they are using.

5. Test Your API

Before you release your API to the public, it's important to test it to make sure it works as intended. Testing will help you identify any bugs or errors in your API so that you can fix them before your users encounter them.
By following these five principles, you can make sure that your API is designed for success. But what next?

The most important follow-up to a successful API is protection. You've built an API and you've tested and documented and you're ready to deploy it to the world. But before you do, you need to make sure you have implemented authorization. By doing so, you will protect your API from potential attacks and keep your data safe.
It is critical to implement some type of authorization to protect your data. There are many different ways to do this, but here we have a very helpful video from Microsoft about how you can do this through their platform:

If you're running a small business, chances are you're going to need to design an API at some point. Maybe you're building a mobile app, or maybe you're integrating with another business. In any case, it's important to design your API for success. We are here to help! If you have an integration or API-first development project you could use some friendly expert help on, look no further! We are your most trusted source for all things software development services and cloud solutions.
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Modern Software Development, eCommerce, Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, Microsoft Partner