Finding a relevant API is the beginning of streamlining your software development process. Once you have found a third party API
that saves you time, money and energy, the final step is to integrate that API into your software. In this article, I will list a number of factors you should consider when integrating your third party APIs.
Possibly the most important safeguard during third party API integration is to ensure that you periodically test and monitor the application programming interface. In my experience, not all APIs are one hundred percent reliable. At times they may not be maintained adequately and as a result, this may impact the layout and functionality of your website. Part of deploying a third party API is placing trust in the third party offering the API. The benefits of this were briefly mentioned above, namely; reduced costs, limited time expended and the ability to utilise your workforce by assigning them to other tasks. The trade-off, however, is a lack of control over the functionality of the API itself. By testing and monitoring, you can identify whether you need to alert customers of the issue. You need to have a contingency plan in place in the event of an outage. A secondary (backup) API, if available, would be the simplest solution.
It’s important to note that there are precautions you can take before you deploy a 3rd party API to ensure that it is reliable. Most notably, you should always look at the API's documentation
. You should be on the lookout for a well-organized, clean API. Interact with the API – don’t be afraid to experiment with it.
Also remember that you may be investing/relying on this API, so ensure you’ve surveyed the field and chosen the best alternative. Additionally, ask questions. Find out how often the third party API provider updates their API and whether general updates will significantly affect you.
Our lives are becoming risk oriented - as we grow older, we place more trust on ourselves and less on others. Utilizing third party APIs requires a level of trust but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps we can take. Remain vigilant through periodic testing and you will be able to identify any problems that might arise early enough to resolve them without serious repercussions for your software.