5 API Development Strategies for Start-Ups | Dreamfactory

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Team discussing API development strategies

When time-to-market can make the difference between being a market leader or "just another product," the need for speed and agility are crucial. As many as 35% of today’s companies generated more than a quarter of their revenue as a direct result of APIs.  As a start-up, you'll need a strategy that supports rapid product delivery which ultimately shortens the customer feedback loop. Here, we'll discuss the top five API development strategies for building robust APIs.

1 – Leverage Pre-existing Services

Microservices offer exciting capabilities for digital transformation and accelerating product growth. But when it comes to implementing them, there is often a tendency for teams to go overboard. 

As an example, what happens when a team comes across a problem that requires a solution that isn't in their tech stack? The first inclination might be to develop a custom solution. Unfortunately, this approach could waste time as the team works on a solution that may already exist in a higher-level service. DreamFactory provides an extensive set of APIs to integrate with a variety of platforms. You can view the entire list of integrations supported when you sign up for a free trial.

Rather than rushing to build a new service search for similar capabilities in higher-level services to reuse for your needs. 

Pros of Using High-Level Services as an API Development Strategy

Less Prone to Errors – A preexisting solution minimizes the chance for errors as you will be using an established solution 

Availability of Support – When things do go wrong, you’ll have access to a support structure to help you figure things out. That way you won’t need to spend time chasing down errors in custom-developed code.

Documentation – Existing solutions provide extensive documentation that can help the team get up and running quickly. 

2 – Start with a Monolith - Evolve into Microservices

Time-to-market is a critical metric for startups. They need an architecture that can support the speed and agility required to meet customer demands for new features. While the microservice API development strategy does support this type of agility, there is a time and a place for them. Often, the better approach is to start with a monolith. Let’s discuss why.

Monoliths vs. Microservices

monolith is an application built as a single unit. All client, server, and database interfaces are interwoven in a single codebase. Microservices, on the other hand, refers to an application made of a suite of individual services. Each service has a specific job, runs in its own process, and is independently deployable. 

Why You Should Start with A Monolith

Building a microservices architecture requires a lot of time, resources, and expertise that you may not have time for as a startup. Also, your team may be too small to support all the moving parts associated with a microservices startup. 

With the rise of these new architectural approaches, some may view monoliths as dated and not worth using. However, that’s not the case. The benefits of monoliths include:

  • Allows teams to develop features more quickly as the codebase is smaller
  • They are easier to deploy as they don’t require the resources and overhead associated microservices
  • Monoliths scale vertically easier than microservices

You Can Always Switch to Microservices

The important thing to know is that you can migrate to a microservices architecture when the time is right. Once your concept is proven, switching to delivering products as smaller services can be of huge value. Sign up for a free trial to learn how easy it is to modernize legacy applications with DreamFactory’s suite of low-code API tools.

3 – Use an API-First Approach

Developers who come from a code-first approach may find an API-first approach a challenge. API-first is more than a development strategy it is a mindset shift that may take some time with which to get accustomed. With an API-first approach, the API is treated as a “first-class” citizen. Using this approach requires teams to build the API first. The application is then built around the app. A few of the benefits are:

Reuse- By nature APIs are contracts that specify how integrations with other systems will work. Developers can simply reuse these contracts as the foundation for a variety of other solutions. 

Improved Customer Experience – Customers value customized experiences tailored to their preferences. API-first drives customization by allowing developers to use various endpoints to bring together the data required to provide a tailored user experience

4 – Use Continuous Deployment for Rapid Releases

When developing a new product, customer feedback is critical to improving the product. Continuous Deployment (CD) is a development process that significantly shortens the product release cycle. With CD deployments run on an automated process that triggers a deployment when new features get added to the code. The build fails only if a test fails in the build process. Get a free trial to see how DreamFactory’s deployment feature allows you to push deployments using the Admin Console.

Benefits of CD

Accelerates Feedback – CD gets new features in front of customers quickly which ultimately 

Improves Customer Experience – Customers get to enjoy new features daily or weekly rather than monthly or quarterly as is the case with traditional deployment models.

Fewer Problems with Releases – With CD, changes get deployed as small releases which reduce the chance for a large volume of errors. 

5 – Hiring the Right Talent

Although this may not seem like a development strategy, hiring the right people for your team can have a huge impact on your ability to capitalize on the full benefits of an API development strategy.  As a startup, you need people who can operate in a fast-moving environment. You need a team that isn't afraid to try things and push the boundaries of technology to get things done. This mindset could be a challenge for developers who come from a more traditional code-first environment. The learning curve could slow progress and impact your time-to-market. 

Ideally, you should not hire solely based on specific skills but for potential. A candidate may not have specific expertise in one area. They may be generalists. As such, they are likely to be more able and willing to accept the API-led approach.  Keep in mind we're not saying to avoid specialists or those with specific expertise in API development. Their skills and input are invaluable to the team. The point is to build a team with the best mix of skills to develop a successful product.

API Development Strategies & DreamFactory

Building the best API development strategy for your start-up is critical to becoming a market leader. The right approach facilitates rapid feature updates to keep up with growing customer demands. With this in mind, the question then becomes: How can your start-up develop an API strategy that is best suited to your particular circumstances? Don’t let your business suffer because of a poorly implemented API strategy. Let DreamFactory show you how effortless API management can be. Schedule a free trial today!

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