App Development: 3 Ways to Add an API to Your App | Dreamfactory

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Applications that use a REST API architecture are designed to be loosely coupled and transfer information quickly. While this architecture focuses on transferring data between clients/servers, it can also apply when interacting with other systems and users. In the world of app development, the need for better, faster, and easier-to-understand APIs is growing, and REST APIs are dominating the legacy modernization conversation. In this article, we’ll discuss API generation and show you three ways to add a REST API to your application.

Develop a REST API for Your App

The first step in designing a REST API-based application is identifying your resources: the objects. Using the object model, you’ll be able to stay organized and move right into identifying the resource URIs, which will serve as the endpoints for the APIs.

Selecting the right language for your REST API is an important part of your app development project; choose one that you and your team are already familiar with so you can move along at a good pace. Remember, many other developers will need to use the same language in order to use your API, so select one of the more popular coding languages:

    • Node.js

    • Python 

    • PHP

    • Ruby

    • Java

The API should be flexible and support multiple platforms, such as Android and iOS. Minimize the amount of processing and enable it to do bulk data operations such as sorting or filtering.  You should design your request header template in such a way that it captures device names, types, and versions. This will help you debug any future problems since this information can be found among the logs of data collected during testing sessions.

Designing effective rules for requests and responses is essential when writing status codes. For example, be consistent with your date/time formats so they are easily readable by users on different devices or at varying speeds. If you’d like to spend less time developing your API and more time testing and building your app, consider using a low-code API tool or a SOAP to REST tool.

API tools like DreamFactory allow you to harness the power of technology, security, and implementation so that you can focus on building your applications, not hand-coding APIs for every new project.  With DreamFactory, you can also integrate any SQL or NoSQL database, file storage system, or external HTTP or SOAP service to instantly generate a flexible, comprehensive, and fully documented REST API endpoint that’s ready to use. 

Staging and Testing the REST API

There are two ways to set up staging and testing for your REST API: Native installation and mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). REST API complexity is a security challenge because, with each new mobile or web project, there is a tendency to create more and more project-specific REST APIs.  According to Network Computing, moving legacy applications to a cloud-native installation will lower costs, improve scalability, and improve business agility. With a cloud-native installation, you can add new authentication and other security features, streamline your workflow, and modernize your entire suite of legacy applications.   

Staging and testing aren't the only steps to move toward a successful production phase; make sure you can keep these APIs up and running with proper maintenance and appropriate versioning. API integration tools and services are making it easier to automate and simplify maintenance, and without efficiency, performance and reliability, the production phase will come to a halt.   Don't forget to address API limits during the staging and testing phase. You should be able to specify rate limits at the instance, role, user, and endpoint level. Limits will protect you against attacks and manage costs. 

Production for Your REST API and Automation Tools

A recent Forbes article says API connectivity is no longer "a sub-genre" and is now an industry in and of itself, an absolute necessity in the modern IT stack. Automation tools pull in documentation, real-time logging, and seamless integration, ensuring a successful production phase. Using an automation tool will enable you to migrate your applications between development, test, and production environments, simplifying the production process. 

With DreamFactory, you get all of the following features:

    • Unlimited API creation

    • Unlimited API volume

    • Role-based access control

    • Auto-generation of open API docs for all services

    • Instant access to dozens of fully documented endpoints

    • Access stored procedures as endpoints

Look for a tool that also allows you to generate secure REST APIs for common network data sources, including any third-party REST API. This will save you significant time and resources during the initial development stage and eliminate errors during production.  If your project requires industry-specific security or compliance with policies such as GDPR or HIPAA, some automation tools can instantly integrate an authentication service to reinforce your API security.  

Finally, use a tool that can automatically generate interactive API documentation for every data source within your app development project. DreamFactory uses Swagger, the most popular open-source project for API documentation. Live documentation allows you to try out different parameters and see the request and response before building an application. 

Getting Started with DreamFactory

The right platform makes it much easier for you to succeed in your app development project. DreamFactory gives you a long list of essential and useful features, including live API docs, instant API creation and robust security controls. Start your free 14-day free trial with DreamFactory to discover how a top API platform can improve your business’s technology.

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