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22nd Feb, 2024
3 min read

The Role of API in Modern Web Application Architecture

Naman Saxena

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Many people ask themselves what an API is and why we need them. Are you curious, too? Here is your read!

API is an acronym for Application programming interface, where applications stand out as software for a specific function. It is a software intermediary that allows applications to interact with other applications using requests and responses. Such API documentation contains plans on how software developers will structure those requests and responses for smooth connectivity. 

API-driven web development plays a pivotal role in modern web development architecture as it empowers developers to be more productive by reusing code in complex but repetitive processes.

API-driven  Architecture

API-driven architecture follows a client/server architecture in which the application sending the request is known as a client, and the application sending the response is known as the server. APIs exchange commands and data in four different ways depending on when and why they were created:

  • SOAP APIs (Simple Object Access Protocol), the client and server exchange XML messages. 
  • RPC APIs (Remote Procedure Calls), where the client completes a function on the server, and then the server sends the output back to the client.
  • Websocket APIs use JSON objects to pass data and support two-way communication between client apps and the server.
  • In REST APIs (REpresentational State Transfer), the client sends requests to the server, and the server uses this client input to start internal functions to output.

Types Of API

API is usually of four types in web services:

  1. Public: These APIs are open to use by any external system; they should only be compatible with their interface. These are used by businesses ready to share their data, for example, weather forecast API, Maps API, etc.
  2. Partner: These APIs are accessed only by the specifically selected and authorized outside system that is partners.
  3. Private: These are private APIs intended only to be used within the organization, e.g., an internal API connects an organization’s payroll, attendance, and HR.
  4. Composite: These APIs combine two or more APIs and structure a sequence of interdependent operations within the business.

What is API-Driven Development?

API-driven development is the method of developing web applications where web services of APIs (with business logical components) are coded first and then the rest of the application. It saves you time and effort compared to traditional web app development, where API design and implementation are not first on the development timeline.

Need for API-driven Development

API-first development has been in use since about 2010. However, it has become more popular and trending for years. It is due to its benefits as follows:

Making Everything Accessible

Suppose developers pick a traditional web app development approach. In that case, it is expected to ignore some parts of the application when deciding which parts of the application to serve via APIs, which is unlikely here. Let’s understand better:

When you build an API in the later development cycle of SDLC, you might realize that one of your application services formats data in a way that doesn’t integrate into your API. To do so, you need to recode that component to make it accessible via an API, which would be time-consuming and not worthwhile. Hence, this leads to gaps in API accessibility.

In contrast, when you embrace APIs as the foundation for SDLC, the development process ensures that the application component is compatible with and accessible via an API.

Encourages Modular Structure

API development is modular and, according to many developers, maximizes application flexibility and scalability. It is because modules interact only through de-coupled interfaces, allowing changes in one module without affecting the other.

  • Developers break the application itself into module
  • Connect disparate parts of an application, and
  • Deploy modules in an environment where the API connects

Modular CI/CD pipelines

It’s a more modular and flexible application and an API-driven development method that promotes continuous integration/ continuous delivery (CI/CD) to deliver the application using DevOps methodologies.

CI/CD represents pivotal practices in modern software engineering. Developers can regularly integrate their code changes into a central repository, which is automatically tested (CI), and these tested code changes are automatically delivered to predefined infrastructure environments (CD).

CI promotes high-quality code and early bug detection, while CD ensures seamless and reliable software updates.

Cloud-friendly apps

API-driven development methods lead to inherently cloud-friendly applications. It is because they are built first and foremost for connectivity. Developers build two types of API- one for internal services and one for the other services in the cloud.

Single Middleware

Using API-driven development methods, developers can use a single middleware between the web and mobile user interfaces, reducing the development effort substantially.

Conclusion

Companies are digitally transforming to meet market needs and match customer expectations. API-driven development is a crucial enabler of these efforts, as APIs today are more standardized and have a much stronger discipline for security and governance.

Innoraft offers API-driven web development services to cater to your business needs. We have many years of IT experience to provide customized software solutions. Moreover, our 24*7 tech support never leaves you unattended.