How Do You Build an API?

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The Knoxville web design experts at 245TECH have another hot take for you. This time, it’s time to talk about APIs. APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are one of the most integral building blocks for third-party feature integration. They help enterprise systems collaborate and databases to communicate. If you’re interested in digging deeper into custom software development, knowing how to construct an API integration (such as HubSpot BigCommerce integration) will help you build a stronger foundation.

API Integrations Explained 

Since “API” itself stands for “Application Programming Interface,” you should understand what the acronym means. For starters, an “interface” is present in all forms of technology. A light switch holds an extremely straightforward interface, while a microwave requires a little bit more effort to communicate and achieve a specific task. The interfaces of the devices are extremely intuitive; they make it far easier to use each device without needing to comprehend the exact science behind each of them. There is no need to know why or how the microwave can heat things up since the interface communicates your wants for you, without needing any advanced sciences.

Consider the mechanisms beneath the hood of a car: they are extremely complicated, right? Without being a specialist, you might not know which component controls what, why it controls it, or how it even works. On the inside of the car, however, you have a limited amount of very intuitive controls you may complete to get the car to function. You may have no idea why pressing the gas pedal causes the car to roll forward, but you know how to stop quickly, change directions, and shift gears. That’s because the car’s interface is simple compared to its internal setup.

The same setup can be considered for any API integrations, especially those designed by Knoxville web design experts such as ourselves. We can set up your APIs through custom software development to match your exact specifications and vision. For example, we could set up HubSpot and BigCommerce integration to automatically sync client order data from a specified eCommerce platform over to a specified HubSpot account–all while leveraging HubSpot for its conversion data.

“Application Programming,” or the AP section of API, refers to how the applications communicate with each other. For example, a Knoxville web design expert may reference “hitting an API” when discussing web services that allow them to send requests and, in return, receive data. Web APIs follow the same premise. Browsers (such as Google Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer) have web APIs built into them to help with adding features to sites.

Importance of API Integrations

API integrations are one of the custom software development tools that allow applications to share data and communicate without any sort of human interruptions. They are an easy way to enable two tools, applications, or systems to talk to each other in an automated, seamless manner.

This form of API connectivity is such a game-changer in a digital age where so many goods and services are cloud-based. The structure of the technical modern world requires API interfaces that cater to their need for connected systems, automatic data sharing between software, and flexible information and service delivery. APIs, such as HubSpot & BigCommerce integration, make all of this possible!

Getting Started: Building an API

Here’s all you need to know about getting started with API development.

1. Identify your goals and intended users.

Determine the goal you are wanting to accomplish and the target users you have in mind. This will be the backbone for the rest of the process.

2. Design the architecture you’ll need for the API.

Your API will need to meet 5 “requirements” for best results:

  • Usability: developers should be able to learn/use your API without much of a struggle
  • Reliability: should have minimal downtime involved
  • Scalability: should be able to handle load spikes
  • Testability: defects should be easily identifiable
  • Security: should have some sort of protection from malware or malicious users

Separate your API into 3 layers: 

  • Validation layer: controls access to all interactions with the app
  • Caching layer: sends the client caching instructions
  • Orchestration layer: combines the data from different sources

Remember: keep it small. Use either the REST or SOAP architectural style. Currently, REST is the most popular, but use what works best for you.

3. Develop the API.

Time to get into it. Here’s a basic list of what to do:

  • Define API responses
  • Handle exceptions and errors
  • Build an API endpoint (REST example here)
  • Implement pagination and search by criteria
  • Analyze the API for performance
  • Begin client-side caching
  • Write API documentation
  • For public API, add versioning
  • Use throttling

4. Test the API.  

Test your API using realistic data, a variety of network conditions, and realistic simulations. Make necessary notes.

5. Monitor the API, record feedback, and implement changes.

Use your notes to implement changes and improve your API.

Things to Remember

Building an API can be quite involved, but there is a science to it that our Knoxville web design team has grown accustomed to. They have experience with several custom software development projects, HubSpot & BigCommerce Integration, and other API integrations. Needing more help with your API build? Don’t hesitate to contact us today! You can reach us at (865) 465-4040.