by Kevin McGahey • March 7, 2019
You need to save money, deploy projects faster, and spend more time on developing application experiences that enthrall users. It is practically a certainty that APIs will play a critical role in your software development process, but how much does it cost to build an API?
On average, it costs $20,000 to build a relatively simple API. This figure assumes that you’re building a secure, documented, fully-featured API with the services of an experienced API developer based in the United States.
It’s important to understand that there is more to an API than just coding an interface to some data source. Whether you are planning on hiring a contractor or assigning a new project to your team, an API calculator can help you understand the time and cost required to develop a mission-critical part of your next project.
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Over years of working with countless developers around the globe, we’ve learned a great deal about what is required to build, test, and deploy a successful API. During the course of these conversations it has become almost universally evident that organizations enter these projects with very little understanding of the costs involved. To help companies understand the costs, we created an API cost calculator. Please click on the image below to open the calculator in a new tab, and follow along with the remainder of this section to understand how it works.
Want an idea of how much building your API will cost? Use our interactive API cost calculator to learn more.
Without question your largest expense will be developer cost. So how much does an experienced backend developer cost? Head over to Glassdoor to learn more about average developer salaries in your area. Keep in mind compensation could increase by 25% to 50% when working with contractors.
The time required to develop the API is going to be a function of it’s capabilities. The calculator breaks these capabilities into several subcategories, allowing you to tweak the time required to complete each. Let’s begin by explaining the fundamentals:
It’s however this last fundamental step that trips up a great many teams. Even an API’s alpha version should never be considered complete without taking factors beyond functionality into account. Notably, a modern API should include:
Our extensive research indicates a feature-complete, fully documented, and secured API built by an experienced United States-based developer will cost approximately $20,000 and require 30 working days. This already considerable expense presumes your organization has key infrastructure in place such as a readily available logging and monitoring solution. Further, the cost, schedule, and complexity can quickly balloon when ongoing maintenance is taken into account, and should your future projects require multiple APIs. That said, you may reasonably wonder why API development can be so costly and time-consuming. At a minimum your development team will need to:
In light of these costs, CTOs and budget-minded business owners might be wondering whether an alternative solution exists. Consider alternatives at your peril. APIs offer a great number of internal and external business advantages, just a few of which follow:
As you can see from the above, it is prudent to factor the costs of API development into your project budget. How can one effectively do so when so many factors are involved?
Building an API is much more than merely building a bridge between your users and a data source. Hopefully our calculator will serve as a valuable tool for understanding the costs involved before venturing too far into implementation.
Our team regularly works with an extraordinary breadth of organizations, ranging from seed-funded startups to Fortune 50 companies. Many of these customers adopt our namesake DreamFactory platform, a powerful tool used to generate a full-featured, fully documented, and secure REST APIs. The DreamFactory platform can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of tedious development.
DreamFactory 4.8.0 has been released! This release focuses on user experience, notably with regards to database API generation. The most popular database connectors (MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, and Oracle) have long included a lengthy list of options, and it hasn’t been obvious which are required and which are optional. To remedy this we’ve broken the service creation form into three sections: Basic, Caching, and Optional Advanced Settings. Additionally, because the Services tab is the natural first tab new users should be clicking on after logging in, we’ve moved the tab to the second position in the navigational bar directly following the Home tab.
In upcoming releases users will see a stream of additional UX improvements intended to more effectively guide new users through the API generation process. Notably, for most basic use cases the administrator completes three tasks: generate the API, create a role-based access control (RBAC), and then associate the RBAC with a newly generated API key. Therefore after successful API generation users will be presented with a new view enumerating typical next steps. We’re also working on improving the service profile detail page, providing admins with a link list taking them directly to the service’s relevant other administrative features, such as API Docs and associated roles.
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