APIs have become a critical part of any organization. Many organizations have adopted an API-First strategy, making APIs focal points for their product creation.
Some companies use APIs to provide only some underlying features to their software. APIs take the driving seat in API-First; they become the foundation, and all implementations revolve around their consumption. This approach ensures that all the functionality of an application is accessed through APIs. This strategy ensures that APIs are designed/developed first, and platforms are shaped according to the API design.
You need to build consistent and reusable APIs to implement the API-First strategy. A lot of thinking goes into designing these APIs. The reason is that after designing these APIs, the backend and frontend are coded according to the API design.
In simple words, API is designed before writing code, and then code is curated according to the API design.
One of the main reasons for the growing popularity of this approach is the number of ways to access an application such as mobile, web, connected devices, etc. Companies can quickly scale to different platforms without re-creating the solution because a single API handles all the functionality. All they need to do is integrate the API with their new platform.
API-First approach dictates that APIs are designed beforehand, and development teams can access the design specification. These teams can work parallel by mocking the API since its design specification is available. The approach saves time because the API developers and other teams can work synchronously. On the other hand, in the Code-First approach, the dependent teams must wait until the API is developed and hosted on a server before starting their work.
API is designed early in iterations which allows the developers to incorporate feedback. API-First allows pivoting and adapting to changes early on, which is much better than changing the whole application to incorporate feedback.
API-First organizations can quickly scale to other devices, platforms, and applications.
Developers consume the APIs. A good API design hides the internal complexity and improves the overall developer experience.
Let's say that your team built a web application. If you want to extend your application to Android and IOS platforms, you will have to code much of the implementation again. You can avoid all the costs and time spent rebuilding by developing a reusable API early.
Among many benefits of API-First, there are also some challenges to consider. The implementation depends significantly on the API design; hence a lousy design could turn these benefits into issues. Moreover, the API must be designed while keeping modifiability in mind to accommodate possible changes in the future and adapt to new requirements.