Design-First or API-First: What’s the Best Approach?7 min read
Businesses are heavily investing in the creation of mobile apps to gain market share, given that there are over 6.5 billion smartphone users worldwide. When using mobile app development services, the most frequent challenge faced by enterprises is whether to use an API-first or design-first strategy.
Developers who use API first architecture concentrate on writing reusable API code for their products. On the other hand, the design-first strategy places more emphasis on the appearance of the final product.
Both strategies have advantages. Let's compare the design-first method versus the API-first approach in-depth to determine the best strategy for developing mobile applications for your company.
Choosing the appropriate strategy
Both strategies have benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately, the best course of action depends on the strategic and technological problems you want to tackle with your APIs in the short term. Let's examine the circumstances and reasons for selecting the Design First or API-First strategy.
Design First Approach
This methodology means that every API effort, no matter how many in a program, begins with a design process.
Before any code is created, APIs are iteratively established in this paradigm that both people and computers can comprehend. Every team should utilize tools that take advantage of the same API architecture and speak the same language.
While the API is very important, the design process guarantees that all stakeholders are involved and that their demands are met in the creation. This is a critical distinction from an API-first strategy.
Experience with developers is Important
A well-designed API can greatly aid the adoption and consumption of your APIs, and the Design First methodology makes it easier to create well-designed APIs.
Good Developers Experience (DX) is important if your API strategy calls for high API adoption and user retention through integration.
Reduce the time it takes for end users to interface with your API by creating an API that is easy for them to grasp in terms of resources and value propositions.
A consistent design reduces the learning curve when interacting with your API, increasing the likelihood of better engagement and reuse value.
Mission-critical APIs Delivery
When your API is intended for partners or consumers outside your company, Design First is the best choice. In this scenario, your API serves as a crucial channel for end users to access your services, and customer satisfaction is greatly influenced by the API's design.
In an omnichannel ecosystem, where consistency in information and hassle-free consumption are significant indicators of company success, such APIs are crucial for showcasing your organization's offerings.
Ensuring Effective Communication
The API contract can serve as the main document that keeps everyone on your team on the same page regarding the goals of your API and how its resources are used.
Examining a human-readable design makes it simpler for your team to find defects and problems with the API's architecture.
It is much more effective and streamlined to identify problems with the design before writing any code than it is to do so after the implementation has been completed.
When a Monolith Breaks into Microservices
In order to maximize productivity while splitting a large monolithic application into smaller microservices, it's important to build the contracts between each service so that different teams can work on these services separately.
The agreement will facilitate team communication and guarantee that the services developed may be integrated.
If Utilizing Non-REST API
REST APIs are what people refer to when they use the terms “design first” or “code first,” as the majority of REST API frameworks offer some form of document generation from the code.
There is no other option if you use GraphQL or RPC to develop your API. A solid framework will assist you in constructing the project from the contract and help you write the schema or proto files.
When You Want To Use the Interface Agreement Document as the API Specification
To avoid having to specify the interface in Word or Excel papers, most businesses will adopt API specification as an Interface Agreement document or include it in the IA.
Since there are several misunderstandings in natural language when describing the API, the conventional method of developers reading Word or Excel documents and translating requirements into code is long gone.
Specifications are a live document that, if design first is used, is always in sync with code and is created to properly express the contract for both humans and computers.
If The Selected Framework Offers A Code Generator
The specification should be written first, and the project should then be scaffolded using a code generator. Starting a project from scratch saves a ton of time, and changing or duplicating an existing project may create issues that are difficult to find.
As soon as the framework is updated to a new version, most generators will include tools to re-generate the code with the same specifications.
You can still create a new project even if the specification has changed and then merge your code into the new project by performing a thorough text comparison with the old codebase.
This strategy is getting more and more attention. It means that your company views APIs as its main priority and recognizes them as crucial business assets on which it depends to function.
An API description language, such as OpenAPI, is used to create the contract that starts this process. There is nothing wrong with this approach, and early standardization across a platform or range of products is a good idea.
The issue is that a company's ability to scale and develop for the future is frequently constrained by the language that has been chosen and its specifics. What does it say about everyone who creates and/or uses your API if it's the most crucial thing?
One will achieve consistency after implementing reusable and consistent APIs. The following benefits are provided by an API-first approach to mobile app development.
Development teams can cooperate simultaneously
A contract must first be established for API. Teams can work on several APIs at once by creating a contract between services that are adhered to by teams throughout an organization.
The release of an API's updates is not a requirement for developers before switching to the next API. Teams can test API dependencies and fake APIs based on the provided API definition.
Lowers the price of creating apps
Code and APIs can be recycled across numerous projects. A development team does not need to start from zero to create new software, which is time-consuming and expensive.
Most issues may be resolved with API-first architecture before any code is created, which helps avoid issues when it comes time to integrate APIs with applications.
Accelerates time to market
A large portion of the process of creating APIs can be automated using software that enables the import of API definition files.
Importing API definition files into tools like SwaggerHub enables the automatic generation of API tools, including API documentation, SDKs, and mock APIs. The creation of applications and APIs is substantially expedited by automation.
API first also enables adding new services and technologies to applications without requiring a system-wide re-architecture.
Applications must be created promptly because of the intense rivalry in this field. Applications today are expected to not only be well-designed but also to reach the market in six months.
Guarantees positive developer experiences
The majority of API users are programmers. Therefore, developer experience (DX) has a significant impact on an API's viability. API first makes certain that developers have a good time utilizing your APIs.
Because it is simpler to reuse code, enroll developers, and lower the learning curve, well-designed, well-documented, and consistent APIs offer favorable developer experiences.
Reduces the likelihood of failure
Since most businesses use APIs in almost all business processes, including marketing, sales, communication, and applications geared toward consumers, APIs have the potential to positively or negatively affect every aspect of your company.
By making sure that APIs are dependable, consistent, and simple for developers to use, APIs first lower the risk of failure.
Growth of API-First
Even the introduction of microservices occurs at the same time as API-First development. The services will be offered, just like for a person, by autonomous systems that are loosely tied and even collaborate.
Amazon, PayPal, and Netflix have successfully shifted their application designs from monolithic to microservice-based. Moving to microservices will enable businesses to create applications with high levels of scalability that even give users the best experience.
These were the results of a poll on developers' experiences using API-first design to create microservices.
- 92% of users of microservices report “some success.”
- 61% of consumers report having used microservices for a full year.
- 29% of respondents are interested in switching to microservices or doing so for the first time.
In order to deconstruct the capabilities of their core businesses into distinct and even reusable services, businesses nowadays are turning to mobile app development services.
They believe that these microservices create software applications that operate dynamically and even deliver a positive user experience (UX) across a variety of platforms, devices, and screen sizes.
Applications and architectures using microservices are impossible without the aid of APIs. You can gain tremendous advantages if a corporation uses the API-first strategy for the software-creating product.
The blog provides in-depth explanations of the advantages of the design-first and API-first approaches to developing mobile apps. We sincerely hope that this will assist you in selecting the appropriate strategy for your project.
You can get professional assistance from Groove Technology, a top provider of mobile application development services, to create a mobile application that adds value to your business.
Please contact us if you have any questions concerning Design-First and API-First.