What Does It Take to Build an API Integration

Developing integration yourself

Companies, which once made integrations on their own, must have experienced all the difficulties of its development and control. The code could contain millions of lines (!), and still growing. Of course, it is unmanageable, and they had to give up. The result was wasted money, efforts and time.

Inconsistency is the problem

Connecting two systems with database requires a great deal of efforts and contains a few inconsistencies like the following:

  • They have different attributes and objects models
  • Sometimes systems have related attributes, but their format and values can differ
  • Conflicts will appear as artifacts by the changes users made

First things first. Start with conducting a research

This is a basic step which software developers often underestimate. At the beginning it is crucial to get a fundamental understanding of the API: track every nuance concerning data structure, protocols, user authentication and reveal possible defects.

2. Design a prototype

Further you’ve got to build a minimal functionality which would prove the ability of the API to connect. This is to let the developer understand the endpoint and learn more about the product. In total, designing stage may take around five days in total for developing the cloud document storage or CRM endpoints).

3. Create a basic version

Speaking in business terms, it is called a MVP — minimum viable product and basically means the same. After testing a prototype, it is high time to release a bare version with basic set of functionality. Budget another 10 days for that and keep in mind that you’ll require even more time to design the rest of the needed functions.

4. Manage transactions

This is the last step before presenting your API to the world, yet it is sometimes skipped due to being a challenging one. Mainly, transaction management is all about answering yourself what would you do if something fails or how would you withdraw the transaction. Obviously, you have not only to plan everything, but also to organize it in a way that it works smoothly and properly. This process requires from five up to ten days of work.

Congratulations. You have built an API

However, the work is not over yet. You have to invest your resources into maintaining the integration.

5. Keep servicing your integration.

  • Logging: dedicate around 3 days to log the transaction for debugging and support each time it is completed.
  • Monitoring: adding alerts and webhooks will take you around two or three days.
  • Documentation. No words are enough to stress the importance of this stage, though it is ignored so often. They say, your API is as good as your documentation is. So make sure you do not overlook this crucial moment and take two days to complete it.

Calculate the costs

To set a realistic view of what is waiting for you, add up the time suggested in this article and multiply it by the extent to which your developer is overloaded. In general developing an API takes around 1,5–2 months for building and infinity to maintain (by which I mean around 30% of original costs on a regular basis, not taking into account the salary for your project manager).

API is only part of the answer

API provides access to the endpoint’s capabilities, artifacts etc. Yet keep in mind that APIs are primarily created for merchant’s convenience to build a multi-level business, not for a third-party integration. Therefore, an average API is often incomplete and documented poorly. Consequently, figuring out how to handle some issues requires plenty of attempts and mistakes made.

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