Third Party APIs: Why They’re a Lifesaver

Finding a third party API is like find­ing a good park­ing spot near work, it may take a bit of time look­ing but once you find it, it saves you time and money. A third party API is de­vel­oped ex­ter­nal to the user. What this es­sen­tially means is that a com­pany build­ing their API can out­source other sys­tems and client li­braries to use for their own sys­tem. Think of a jig­saw puz­zle, you can ei­ther build the pieces and put them to­gether or you can go to a third party API, take their jig­saw pieces and put it all to­gether.

The first strength as­so­ci­ated with third party APIs is the abil­ity to utilise the ex­ter­nal de­vel­op­ers ex­per­tise. If an API is al­ready pro­vid­ing re­li­able in­for­ma­tion then you can ef­fec­tively utilise that in­for­ma­tion in­stead of pop­u­lat­ing it your­self. For ex­am­ple, if you are de­vel­op­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion re­lat­ing to med­ical con­di­tions, then you would have to pop­u­late it with nu­mer­ous med­ical con­di­tions, which re­quires a cer­tain level of ex­per­tise. If there is a third party API avail­able then you can sim­ply take the pre-ex­ist­ing client li­brary sav­ing you from sourc­ing a med­ical ex­pert to use within your ap­pli­ca­tion. Additionally, de­vel­op­ing this part of your ap­pli­ca­tion may not fit into the core func­tion of your busi­ness which can some­what stretch the fo­cus of your com­pany.

Probably the most ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit as­so­ci­ated with third party APIs is the sav­ing of time and money. The cost of co­or­di­nat­ing and de­vel­op­ing in house can be quite ex­ces­sive, es­pe­cially when you’re build­ing an en­tire frame­work from scratch. When you use a third party API you pay the li­cense fee, ad­dress se­cu­rity con­cerns and in­te­grate it into your sys­tem. The up­front cost as­so­ci­ated with the li­cense agree­ment can seem ex­ces­sive at the time but when you com­pare that with the cost of em­ploy­ing in house de­vel­op­ers, the cost seems quite rea­son­able. This was hinted at pre­vi­ously but the time spent on em­ploy­ees de­vel­op­ing and pop­u­lat­ing in­for­ma­tion de­tracts them from the busi­ness’ core fo­cus. As a re­sult, the busi­ness loses key per­son­nel for a con­sid­er­able amount of time adding to the costs of the pro­ject.

As a de­vel­oper, there is noth­ing worse than start­ing from scratch. It’s the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing the longest route to get to your des­ti­na­tion when there is a clear short­cut avail­able. Hence, I thor­oughly rec­om­mend us­ing a third party API or mul­ti­ple third party APIs when de­vel­op­ing your sys­tem.

To see how to avoid Third Party API traps check out the WorkingMouse blog.



Matt Francis

Brewer of beers, smoker of meats

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