Building or Buying API: What Is Better For A Mobile App?

Building or Buying API: What Is Better For A Mobile App?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Let’s start with the full form and meaning and API. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is basically a set of functions and procedures which allows the development of app accessing the features or data of an operating system or app or any other service.

In layman terms, It creates the connection and communication between the apps and the OS and any other system related to the app. It creates a major impact on the user experience of the app. API is base for plenty of other things but for a mobile app to look good and function great, it is a must. The best thing is that API can be designed and developed and customized according to the applications need. Also, it has to be customized as it is at the main access point of any system of the mobile app.

API usage is very flexible when it comes to when and how to integrate it. The developers can tweak it as per their understanding. It works in the background to make the foreground look good and work well.Being a technical person, you must be aware of this. For non-technical people, they might not know but they have definitely used. They are an inseparable part of our daily lives. You use the API while you are texting or while you are calling while using the GPS or calendar, or even while using the camera of your phone. Basically, they are integrated into every piece of technology that you use. Whether it is mobile apps or websites, API is integrated into both of them.

Now, it takes a considerate amount of time, efforts, and resources to build an API. Developers are bound by a limited timeline to complete the project and if they invest that time in building API, they won’t be able to deliver the project in time. So, they shift to another option of buying already built API. Now, it sounds convenient but, is it really a good idea to buy? Let’s find out.

Whether to Build or Buy API?
We all know API is must in an app but, there are two ways you can do that. Buying API sounds easy and convenient. It saves a lot of time, doesn’t need more experienced developers, and also maintains the budget.

Coming to the second option building an API is difficult. But, it allows optimum customization. You can develop API exactly as per the app needs and not settle with something that doesn’t fit. High-security standards will be maintained when you create your own API. For apps that are related to banking, finance, or any other category with sensitive personal information of the user, I suggest the building is the way you should process. Make sure to hire an experienced and expert mobile app development company for creating the API.

Now, if you are going that path, you will need a guide on how exactly you should do that. Let me help you with that.

Tips For Developing Your Own API

Well, this is kind of a safety measure. It helps your app getting misused if it falls in the wrong hands. Insert a developer key for sure when you develop your API. Anyone who wants to use it has to feed a specific code to get access to it and use it. Take every possible step you can to ensure the security of your API.

Document The Process:
Documenting the process has several benefits. The first one is that you can track your progress. You know where you left last and what you need to do next. API development is a long process and you don’t want to get confused in the way. The users and the Mobile App Developers both can be stay updated about the current and past status of the API. It will prove to be a big boon in case of the changes or updates.

It would be a nightmare when you are trying to fix something in the API in the future but, you can’t figure out what’s wrong. It will lead to nothing but an excess amount of time and efforts to make the changes or update the API. If you intend to make your app popular and want other developers to use it in their apps, process documentation is very essential. Other developers must know how does it function and how can they implement where process document will help.

Plan Your Update:
The API is not forever. It will need changes or updates in the upcoming future. In fact, there will be plenty of times it will need to be updated. This aspect must be considered during the initial stage of development. Develop it in a way when the time comes for the update, it would be easy and simple to roll. If you make any mistakes while developing and deploying the API update, there is a high probability of issues with the features and functionality of all the apps based on that API. The process of creating a new version must be streamlined on the case by case basis and it should be pre-defined.

Playing with the already published and used API is bad, in fact, it’s really really bad. Users of this API is dependent on its interface. They have business logic relying on that API and changing the endpoints might fail them. Well, the effect might be from some minor troubles to users making lawsuits for the financial settlement of their loss.

Speed and Scalability:
The API must be developed in a way that it provides both usability and speed and don’t need to compromise on either of those. The agenda must be to develop a simpler solution that entails quicker output. Feed only those features which are necessary for the app. Integration of excessive features would complicate the app and make the functioning cluttered.

Correct Use Of HTTP Status Code:
HTTP avails the developers with a solid mechanism to inform the API consumers about the status of their request with HTTP status codes. Make correct use of these codes and your users will thank you later. Let me show you the code and its meaning.

Code Name Meaning
200 OK Everything went properly. I will return your requested source.
201 Created Voila. We created a new resource for you successfully.
204 No content There is nothing over here. May be you just deleted all of it.
401 Unauthorized Your credentials were not valid.
404 Not found Your requested information is not here.
422 Unprocessable entity There might be a validation error and resource cannot be saved.


If the API you are intending to build is a non-public one, you will need to have some kind of authentication. You don’t need to integrate an extremely complex one, a basic one will do. Authentication with username and password is appropriate for any user. Both the ease of use and security is maintained with basic authentication.

Rate Limiting:
When your API is at the initial stage of its usage, there won’t be any concern about the performance or the resource limitation. Now, if your hard work pays off and your API gets popular, successful, and grabs plenty of users, things might go wrong.

When inexperienced developers integrate your API into their infrastructure and workflows, they call your endpoints into endless loops. There will be high concurrency and poorly configured cron jobs resulting in requesting the same URL several times per hour. This is the reason you must integrate the rate limit at an early stage. This will save your server from being taken down by a CI server. Also, it will be a guide for your users on the proper use of your API by limiting the maximum number of request for a specific time span.

Pagination of Result:
At the initiation of the app development or API development, you cannot get the idea of the number of the users and the data we need to manage those users. The unexpected increase can be difficult to manage if not planned in advance. This can create issues eventually when certain endpoints of the API don’t offer pagination. It can cause inconvenience for web-server, browser, and database management. Pagination can be implemented by using any of the gems or it can do it yourself by using offset statements and limit in your collection or in the query.

Wrapping Up 
To the answer to build or buy, it’s definitely build. A definite answer with a definite solution is provided. Make your own decision for your own app. If the time or the budget is a constraint you can go for another option of buying.

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Written by

Madhu Kesavan is the Founder & CEO of Way2Smile Solutions, a globally recognized digital transformation company empowering enterprises and governments in their digital journey. With 20+ years in the IT market, he makes his vision for a sustainable future come true by leveraging technology.