by Tony Harris
• March 23, 2021
There are many reasons why you should incorporate API management within your business strategy and why the development of a ‘top-down’ API strategy could benefit your organization. Vikas Anand (formerly of Oracle, now with Google) listed four enterprise benefits associated with effective of API management in an interview with CubeConversation:
APIs also work to unify legacy systems with new technology, helping with the modernization of your software stack. They can streamline your workflows, microservices, and business processes into something more developer-friendly.
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But how you develop a new API can be as important as your decision to build one in the first place. You could go the bottom-up approach, focusing on code and the how of your API product. Or you can approach it from the top down, focusing on the API’s design over its code. Read on to learn why a top-down strategy will suit your business needs and increase your business’s value.
The terms “top-down” and “bottom-up” can refer to different things. They can refer to the method by which an API is built. They can also refer to the direction in which decision-making goes during a digital transformation. These two concepts are linked: a top-down API strategy favors business leadership at the top, while a bottom-up strategy favors your IT at the bottom.
For a successful digital transformation, you need to have all stakeholders on board. This includes your IT and business management. But sometimes this is easier said than done. Introducing new and untested technology can be a hard sell for business leadership. But APIs aren’t untested — they’re unfamiliar.
Getting your business leadership behind a digital transformation is critical to the success of your new strategy. For this reason, top-down strategies often end up being the most effective. According to a recent survey of hundreds of IT leaders, organizations that implement top-down strategies report better integration with non-IT departments and are more efficient overall.
Also called a “code first” approach to API building, this is the traditional method of creating an API. IT can start building directly from the business requirements, focusing on the back-end rather than the front-end. This approach does have its advantages if you’re looking for fast implementation and/or using the API internally. It has the disadvantage of being less approachable to anyone outside of IT, such as business stakeholders and external developers.
If you’ve ever tried your hand at coding, you may have heard of something called “pseudocode.” This is an informal way of writing out your intentions for a program in a way that resembles a programming language. It isn’t machine-readable, but it often helps the programmer frame their intentions in a way they can later translate into code. A top-down approach to API building is similar: The user can focus on what they want out of their API instead of how to word it.
This approach is also referred to as a “design first” strategy. With top-down, you’re looking at what your API is designed to do first before working with any code. That is, if you’re planning to work with code at all. New developments in the software world make no-code API solutions possible. You could build a no-code API in next to no time while a third party (like DreamFactory) does the heavy lifting of translating your design choices into code.
The top-down approach makes API building and other software solutions more approachable for those outside of IT. It favors the developer experience and the user experience, which is critical for public APIs. This will lead to a consistent design and streamlined communication, which in turn leads to easier integration by the end user. Development teams have an easier time working with top-down API design, which means more functionality from integration to automation.
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DreamFactory’s API management platform best accommodates a top-down API strategy with respect to building APIs and managing them throughout their life cycle. With APIs becoming essential to business models and digital transformation strategies, there must be solutions that favour non-IT professionals. Looking at an API from the top down, focusing on what it can do rather than how, makes the software development process easier and more approachable for everyone.
With our API platform, we can help you build a top-down API that’s scalable, full-featured, and secure in minutes, with the full API documentation. This lays the groundwork for the rest of your digital transformation.
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