by Susanna Bouse
• May 29, 2020
Let’s explore First vs. Third-Party APIs. APIs are everywhere, and as a developer, understanding how to implement them is imperative. The goal of APIs is to make life easier and more efficient — both for the developer and the end-user.
Incorporating APIs into your development workflows requires you to make a number of key decisions, including whether or not to develop in-house or to use external partnerships. Meaning, whether you should develop a first-party API or integrate a third-party API.
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There are advantages and disadvantages to both, especially when weighing the pros and cons of customization vs productivity, which is something to consider when you’re aiming to become an API-driven enterprise.
What Is an API?
What Are First-Party APIs?
What Are Third-Party APIs?
How Does DreamFactory’s Tools Assist with Automatic API Generation?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs allow two applications to exchange data and communicate with one another. For developers, they increase efficiency, automation, personalization, and adaptation — and for the end-user, APIs make it possible to utilize a wide range of services all in one platform.
For example, every time someone uses a mobile application to book a flight, check the weather on their phone, or reserve a table at a restaurant, they’re using an API.
In the eyes of a developer, as Forrester Research analyst Josh Walker explains, building an application without APIs is like “building a house with no doors. The API is how you open the blinds and the doors to exchange information.”
From banking applications to everyday consumer use, APIs impact us all. For developers, they’re particularly important when writing a new program. APIs support developers in that they do not need to start from scratch. Instead, they can contract out key components of their newly written program that have already been created, and most often, to a higher standard. For example, if you want your users to be able to easily schedule appointments, you may want to integrate your app with the Google Calendar API.
There’s no denying that APIs are everywhere, and as a developer, it’s important to understand the key differences between first- and third-party APIs.
First-party APIs are those that are developed internally. These APIs are developed using in-house resources, talent, and systems.
There are clear strengths associated with first-party APIs, including:
As implied, a third-party API is an API that’s developed out-of-house, which is typically much less specialized in comparison to a first-party API. Third-party APIs also include those that are incorporated into a project, such as Google Maps.
The strengths associated with third-party APIs, include:
Learn more about how you can power your tools with the data they need here.
Some of the weaknesses associated with third-party APIs to consider include:
So, which is better, a first-party API or a third-party API?
The answer to this question is based on an API’s purpose, being rather case-specific.
When deciding to go with a first-party API or a third-party API, you’ll need to consider your current infrastructure, resources, budget, and overall goals. You’re basically comparing an option that provides full control vs a simplified, more automatic out-of-the-box solution, which, of course, restricts control.
A first-party API will always require a lot more time, money, and effort based on its complexity. A cost/benefit analysis will be required if you want to have total control over your product. First-party APIs vs third-party APIs is essentially a comparison of control vs simplicity and productivity.
We’ve covered First vs. Third-Party APIs. If you’re looking for both a simple, yet comprehensive solution to REST API automation, generation, and management, DreamFactory offers a wide range of features, including but not limited to:
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