As developers, we strive to build new and exciting technologies quickly. Third Party Application programming interface (API) integration allows us to integrate existing technologies rather than spend valuable time redeveloping the wheel.
A focus on developing a core product is the key to success — especially when you’re working at a start-up or on a project with tight constraints. Integrating APIs is a great way to move forward quickly, but you need to be thoughtful and deliberate when integrating. Here are a few of the keys to successful API Integration:
- Documentation: Learn before you integrate. The key to a smooth API integration is to go through its documentation as much as you can. All the information, different use-cases, edge-cases, and more are provided in the documentation for most API documentation. If the documentation (or Github resources — see below) for the integration is lacking, rethink the use of the API.
- Github: Most sources offer to share their Github repository to list their API endpoints to demonstrate its functionality and usage. This will give you an inside look you will need to integrate seamlessly and troubleshoot issues.
- Swagger testing: Swagger is a tool that documents REST APIs and helps to test them. It’s a good practice to test the APIs on swagger before implementing it on our code base. Some other options are the Postman app on Chrome or Rest API on the Firefox web browser.
- Whitelist IPs: Make sure that the endpoints are accessible. Some vendors prefer to have the access of their APIs on whitelisted IP’s i.e. they agree to whitelist the IP’s for User Acceptance Testing(UAT) as per requirement of new users so that the API is not available to general public.
- UAT Credentials & UAT users for testing. If the API that you intend to use involves sending data, it will most likely have credentials for accessing it along with a UAT user for testing the happy path.
- Certification Requirements Some API sources require you to undergo a certification process or demonstrate the usage of API in a UAT environment before granting production access. Therefore, it is essential to plan for certification. Certification sometimes involves a suite of API that you need to certify before using a couple of endpoints. This can add time to your project plan.
- Worst-case, locking API scenarios limit: Some API may have a locking limit, for instance, if you happen to ping the endpoint with incorrect credentials, it will lock the endpoint from returning a successful response similar to an account login lock. It’s necessary to keep these worst-case scenarios in mind before pinging a certain endpoint multiple times.
- Usage limit: Blocking traffic from single sources of traffic protects API providers from overloading their systems. Each provider is different, but it’s important to know these constraints and build around these constraints.
That’s just the beginning! There are many more tips, tricks, and considerations when integrating third-party APIs. I plan on writing another blog on the topic, soon. Are these tips helpful? What else would you like to learn about?