An API is a computing interface that allows different software intermediaries to communicate with each other. This has made things quite easy for companies today since they are not forced to develop complete software when they want to implement something for their day to day business services. For example, a company that wants to build a customer management system can use an API such as the Google API or Facebook API to implement a signup and login system. In the long run, this saves companies a lot of time and also helps them get cool and good looking systems with very little work. If you look at this infographic showing the technology trends of 2020, you will realize that APIs have taken a center stage in almost every aspect of the trends changing how we operate.
However, there are thousands of APIs today, some doing a similar job and others doing different things. The difficult work comes when a company needs an API for their product but then get tens or hundreds of APIs that do the same job. The smart companies will go through a lot of work and tests before they can settle on an API that does the job for them. Companies need API integrations that will not only do what they want them to do but also meet all the demands of their customers. So, what should these companies look for before they choose an API for their products?
Before you settle on an API, the first thing you need to look at is its documentation. You need to make sure that the documentation is detailed enough for you to understand how to use the API and how it works. You should also check to make sure that you have code snippets and sample projects that you can actually use with a few modifications.
After reviewing the documentation above, you also need to check the names and methods used in the API. This is important because it helps one make a decision about the naming conventions the API uses and those that they have used on their product. It is also important to make sure that the parameters used match those that are used with your product. If they do not, it is good to consult your development team before choosing any API.
3. Data Formats
Before choosing an API, you need to make a decision on the data format that you want to use. Initially, XML was the most used data format before JSON started taking over for APIs. Even though both XML and JSON data formats can be read easily by humans, the JSON format is easier to implement. This is a decision you need to make before choosing an API to use for your product.
4. Libraries and Examples
It is important to ask the API developer for examples written in the programming language used for your product. Also, you can ask them for a library that interacts with the API in the same language used with your product. This will make the process of implementing the API easy and straightforward, saving your developers a lot of time.
Imagine using a software service that does not have any support forums or that lacks a platform where you can ask questions when you are stuck? Such an API is either made to give you problems or even fail before you can get everything running well. You need to make sure that the API has online support forums or an active community of other people using it. Try to get an API whose provider talks to their customers and solves problems in a relevant and timely manner.
If you follow these guidelines when choosing an API, you are guaranteed of getting success given that you implement the API correctly. You also need to make sure that the API meets the needs of your customers and does everything that you want it to do.