Why consider imoon for your API development needs?
- We have more than 15 years experience in API development
- We’ve have built complex APIs for government agencies and large corporate entities
- We have experience in all API interfaces, including REST, SOAP, and Webhooks
- Our customized API solutions process millions of calls per day
- Our API solutions interface with Zapier & Integromat, so you can connect your entire tech stack with our customized solutions
- Our team is made up entirely of Israel-based programmers
- We provide ongoing support for the lifetime of the product, extending well beyond the end of the development process
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What is API Development?
An Application Programming Interface (or API) is a protocol that allows programmers to send commands and transfer data between systems.
An API interface can be a small component that links different parts of a system; for example, an API that links your email system to your social media accounts and your financial tracking software to streamline your lead generation processes into one interconnected system. In other cases, API development is the central part of the project, and is built so outside parties can securely access your data.
Almost every software project we’ve developed has included an API interface.
One large project we created for the Ministry of Transportation included an API for the ministry’s information systems so that data could be accessed by external organizations. The software solution allows vehicle licensing centers to access vehicle records in the Ministry’s databanks so they can track consumer compliance with vehicle registration mandates.
Projects like this are especially complex because it requires the API to transmit data in a two-way manner so that information can flow into the organization from external sources and select information approved by the governing body, can also be released to outside entities.
Until recently, entities that developed API interfaces were mainly large organizations. Today, even small and medium-sized business entities choose to develop API interfaces, mainly because of the many advantages of working with an API.
When starting an API project, a different mindset is required than that needed for a standard development process. Most of the failures in software systems occur due to inefficient connections between the different parts of the software. Since an API is by its very nature a ‘connector,’ this means project development must be done very carefully.
APIs can be used for several purposes:
- APIs can link different systems within one organization.
- APIs can allow partners outside the organization to send commands and to receive information from databases and systems within the organization.
- An API can allow end users – users outside the organization who are not necessarily known to the organization – to perform operations against the organization’s software systems.
Before starting development, it is critical to identify all API users with an emphasis on defining who will use the API and for what purpose. Then we classify what data will pass through the API and what commands the API will need to execute. Ease of use for developers who work with the API is also an important consideration during the development phase.
It is important to note that in many cases an API may be exposed to developers from multiple agencies. Therefore, any future changes to the API will entail developments and adjustments from the developers of all related systems. In order to avoid such a problematic domino effect, the API should be planned for as long a period as possible.
There are generally two main types of API from which we can choose:
- RESTful API
RESTful API is a more modern technology, and it is based on HTTP. Therefore, it is easier and faster to implement for the programmers who use it.
SOAP, on the other hand, is based on a formal protocol. It consumes more resources but is more suitable for interfaces between closed systems when information security considerations or complex traffic objects outweigh the need to provide programmers with fast, easy interface.
Current technological advances have enabled a higher level of information security for REST interfaces as well, which is why we see fewer SOAP-based interface development projects and more REST-based web interfaces, even when it comes to internal organizational systems.
In general, we prefer REST for web and mobile interfaces, and SOAP for integration between secure systems or internal organizational systems.
Webhooks (Reverse API)
While REST and SOAP are two-way interfaces, Webhook is another, simpler way to connect systems. The main difference between API and Webhook is that API is based on requests (calls) that are made to the API from the outside, while Webhook is based on events, meaning that the operation is performed without a call from the outside.
For example, if we want the CRM system to send a message in real time to a mailing system every time a new customer is added to the CRM: the CRM interface will use Webhook and the interface of the mailing system (the one that receives the call) will be a REST or SOAP API.
The Benefits of Working with an API
Imagine an organization that wants to allow customers access to classified data that is updated once a week. There are several options to implement such functionality without an API.
In one example, the organization can open a ‘path’ to the data and allow external parties to pull the desired information. Implementing such a solution will not allow the organization to control how the data is transferred, and the organization will not retain any data about who pulled the data and when.
Further, if the organization decides to limit the access of a certain group of customers to specific data at a future date, it will be necessary to open a separate ‘corridor’ for each scenario, such as this one. Decentralization of the management of the processes in the organization may cause processes to slow, or may even lead to a loss of control.
Conversely, if the organization chooses to develop an API, no changes will be required to manage the sensitive layer that connects the data. It is possible to easily make future changes in permission settings without affecting other customers and without requiring the organization to create a new path to the data.
In most cases, API development will bring you the following benefits:
- Authorization levels – each user who connects to the API can be granted different authorization levels and will subsequently be exposed to different levels of data. For example, some users will be allowed to update data and others will only be allowed to view the data.
- Limiting activity (Throttling) – it is possible to limit the API to a number of calls in a given period of time. For example, if a client tries to call the API more than 5 times per second, at first the access rate will slow and eventually it will be blocked for several minutes.
- Monitoring – It is very easy to monitor the status of an API. If the API ‘goes down’ or if there are any other operational problems, immediate notifications will be sent to administrators by email or SMS, or automatic notifications such as webhooks will be sent to other systems.
- Information security – the API has data protection built in, meaning that organizations that support standards such as ISO27001, HIPPA, GDPR can manage access to the data using an API. For information security companies, performing API penetration tests is a standard procedure. For developers, ongoing improvements to information security at the API layer are relatively easy to implement.
- Multiple integrations – The API can serve several different systems at the same time. After developing an API for one system, the organization can then connect additional systems to the same API without needing new code.
- Central handling of error messages – an API log helps the organization’s information systems manager get a clear and up-to-date picture in one central place without having to go through the log files of several systems to locate a single problem.
- Standardization – an organization that maintains an API can consolidate similar processes in one central place and therefore prevent a situation where different departments in the organization need to develop patches or workaround solutions. Over time, maintaining a centralized API will be cheaper and more efficient than other solutions.
- Documentation – documentation of the interface in a central place allows the knowledge of the organization to be preserved over time and saves resources when new partners connect to the API. Dedicated tools such as Swagger enable online documentation of the API in addition to automated tests and automated code snippets that are generated for the programmers to test the API.