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7 Reasons Why You Should Build API Driven Solutions For Your Mobile Apps

Hussain Fakhruddin - September 14, 2016 - 0 comments

The importance of api-driven app development


It won’t be overstating facts if APIs were referred to as the ‘foundational technology’ behind application development. API-driven development methods were in focus since the start of Web 2.0 technology, although the attention on APIs has really spiked in the last half a decade or so. APIs bolster the performance of mobile apps in two chief ways. Firstly, they help in the seamless integration of applications with the internal IT systems in the backend. Also, apps can be connected with rich clients on the front-end without any hassles, with the help of custom APIs. In today’s discussion, we will delve a little deeper into the need for API-driven development for smartphone apps:

  1. Optimal use of developers’ time

    Writing endless lines of codes for an app is ‘hard work’. Working with pre-built, custom application program interfaces is ‘smart work’, and you should already be aware of which one you should opt for in today’s world. You might be the best mobile app developer going around, but a reluctance to use APIs will only stretch out the overall app development cycle, necessitate more (read: much more!) coding, and keep the risks of making errors wide open. APIs give developers the option to ‘destroy code’ as much as possible while creating high-quality applications. The time saved over here can be utilized for other productive purposes.

  2. Closer collaboration between app makers and clients

    Earlier on, most forms of software development were long-drawn processes, and they did not really involve the customers. The attention was more on the functionality of apps in their final stage, with client-feedback and suggestions staying in the background. The growing popularity of API design and development has revolutionized this scenario. Now, developers can actively seek the feedback/opinions of clients at multiple stages of development. The same can then be easily incorporated in the project. What’s more, customers can even get a first-hand feel of using apps BEFORE they are launched – through service virtualization techniques with APIs. In a nutshell, APIs have become instrumental for narrowing down the gap between clients’ expectations and the developers’ output. And that’s a good thing for both parties!

  3. Better organization

    When you are working on multiple mobile app development projects, the last thing you can afford to be is unsystematic. Keeping things in order is one of the most important reasons that drive up the adoption of API-driven solution methods. Provided that all the API descriptions, API schema, usage-related data and other specifications (including the formal API documentation) is securely stored at one place, accessing the right information at the right time becomes a whole lot easier for developers. The need for having a properly detailed schema, in particular, boosts the app testing procedure.

  4. Getting rid of repetitive steps

    With a strong API backend (backend-as-a-service or BaaS), most repetitive steps during the making of an app can be unified. All that the developers have to do is connect the paired SDKs (Android, iOS, Javascript, Python, Java, Node,js, and others) with the APIs, and get projects completed more quickly – while maintaining high quality standards. With new technologies and frameworks being launched frequently and mobile app development increasingly becoming more complex, APIs provide a smart way for developers to build apps faster, and pay more attention to the core features and the main point(s)-of-difference of new applications. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time – the focus should be on making sure that the wheel rolls smoothly, always.

Note: Both boilerplate code lines as well as repeated stack setups can be removed by following API-driven development methodology for every application.

        5. Implementing important third-party services and functionality

How do multiplayer mobile game apps allow users to send invites to their Facebook friends? That’s right, by calling the Facebook API. Use on-demand cab service applications (think Uber)? The maps displayed in them are shown by calling the Google Maps API. Now imagine that APIs were not available, and you had to incorporate these functions through code-sharing (from other applications). It would have been an unnecessarily complex process, a wastage of both time and effort (without any guarantee of proper performance at the end of it all). Third-party apps, can, with APIs, share many key functionality of the biggest service providers in the online business. It’s like having access (albeit limited) to the readymade resources prepared by others.

      6. Evolution of enterprise application development

There was a time when developers were not concerned about app-to-app integration (i.e., the internal resources and information of an application being shared by other apps). Things have come a long way from there – and now developers can easily support such integrations with the help of RESTful API designs, access control (key-based) and versioning. JSON-based data has also emerged as handy resources/tools in this regard. These API conventions have successfully replaced the external middleware required for such integrations. In addition, for enabling rich mobile clients and/or JavaScript and HTML5, a robust API architecture has become essential in dynamic application delivery models. If you wish to make enterprise apps that would truly foster better internal and external collaboration, working with APIs is no longer just an option.

        7. Faster and more thorough mobile app testing

Manual testing is necessary, but is far from being sufficient for ensuring the quality of new mobile applications. In general too, thoroughly testing an app without APIs is an unduly long, and often half-baked process. With APIs, developers can use the ‘Test Automation’ feature to perform exhaustive app testing, and bring down the duration of the total app testing cycle at the same time. The pressure on manual testers gets considerably reduced. Chances of bugs remaining undetected is nil, and the apps become of assured quality. As a result, they can more than live up to the expectations of both clients and end-users.

APIs help mobile app developers to create a strong network ecosystem, in which they can develop software. Many apps need to capture and display data from the backend, and APIs are a must-have in them. Another point to be noted here is that APIs in particular, and BaaS in general, are important when you make your first app – and they become even more important when you become an established player (as the needs for higher quality apps and quicker development cycles grow). Not surprisingly, many leading mobile app companies specialize in custom API development as well.

The value of the BaaS market worldwide has been projected to inch towards $7.8 billion by the end of 2017. APIs help developers in multiple ways, and boost up the quality and performance standards of applications. Unless you use API driven solutions for your mobile apps – you are simply risking yourself being overtaken by competitors who have already switched over to the API economy.

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