If digital applications are visualized as discrete businesses performing their respective functions, application programming interfaces (APIs) are the rules of communication governing the exchange of information between them. In our increasingly interconnected digital ecosystem, it’s easy to understand why the inter-app communication facilitated by APIs is critical.
IT decision-makers agree. Software AG’s recent survey of industry leaders found 98% consider APIs “extremely or very important to business operations.” They also report using APIs more frequently, and for a broader range of projects, including digital transformation, modernization, innovation, and sustainability.
With the utility and ubiquity of APIs on the rise, many developers have chosen to adopt an “API-first” approach. What does this mean for the future of the digital business landscape? Let’s find out.
What is API-first and why is it important in 2022?
Postman’s 2022 report on APIs characterizes “API-first” as “defining and designing APIs and underlying schema before developing dependent APIs, applications, or integrations.”
Tyk offers an expanded definition: “API-first is a product-centric approach to developing APIs. It views the role of APIs as discrete products, rather than integrations subsumed within other systems. The overall goal is to produce a set of modular, interoperable APIs which, when combined, create an API platform that fosters innovation.”
The benefits of API-first
There are many benefits of an API-first approach, but one of the most noteworthy is interoperability. When integrated API products are designed to function together, developers are empowered to work more efficiently and creatively — benefits that beget additional gains. In fact, 75% of the developers and API professionals surveyed by Postman believe “developers at API-first companies are happier, launch new products faster, eliminate security risks sooner, create better software, and are more productive.”
And while Postman identified just 8% of their respondents as “API-first leaders,” they signaled this “small, elite group” out for praise, concluding, “They produce APIs faster and have fewer failures. And they have brighter outlooks on employment and spending.”
No doubt in large part to these benefits, Postman’s API-first leaders spend 76% of development efforts on APIs, compared to 51% for the rest of the industry professionals surveyed.
API-first and the future of work
Despite the majority of Postman’s respondents identifying the economy as “not so good” or “poor,” 89% believe investment in APIs will “increase or stay the same over the next 12 months.” The API-first minority expressed an even more optimistic outlook. “API-first leaders were 35% more likely to forecast an increase in hiring over the coming year than respondents ranking themselves lowest in API-first. API-first leaders were also about 50% likelier to predict a rise in employee retention and internal spending.”
However, with the broader cultural shift toward remote work, API-first companies looking to source top talent must be prepared to meet the demands of developers. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Postman’s respondents considered remote work “very important,” and 68% expected to work from home at least four days a week in 2023.
If employers are going to attract and retain developers, they will need to accommodate these hybrid and remote work expectations. And with the efficacy of remote work hinging on a secure, unified platform to integrate various applications, APIs, and microservices, those companies with an API-first strategy in place will have a distinct edge over the competition.
APIs – the Eidosmedia approach
Development teams at Eidosmedia have fully adopted an API-first approach: all applications from the release of Prime v8 (the latest major update of our desktop application) are integrated with the core backend business logic via REST APIs. The result has been to streamline the development process, especially in a remote working context, cutting time-to-market.
This approach has also proved ideal for the integration of 3rd party tools and platform extensions.
Eidosmedia APIs are product-centric, developer-friendly and supported by a growing developer community with online tools and resources.