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Everything you need to know about first and third-party APIs

21st September 2020 Print
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APIs are supposed to make life more efficient and easier for both the end-user and the developer. They act as the medium through which systems communicate with each other. 

However, before one can incorporate an API into their development work, they need to make a number of key decisions, among them deciding to either develop an in-house API (this involves developing a first-party API) or use an external partnership (integrating a third-party API) 

There are pros and cons associated with each, especially when it comes to the customization and productivity of the APIs. The technological space has changed and most people are using OpenAPIs. These are basically third-party APIs provided by other companies such as Twitter and Google to allow you to access their functionality and use it on your application. 

First-party APIs do not have this. However, there are online services such as this site that allow you to convert your in-house APIs to OpenAPIs and reap from all the benefits associated with OpenAPIs.

What is a First-Party API?

An API that is developed internally by a developer or an organization is known as a first-party API. They are developed using in-house talent, resources, and systems. 

Some of the pros of first-party APIs include;

A first-party API gives developers an opportunity to oversee the entire lifecycle of the API. This makes the API much more functional and useful over time. During the early stages of the API’s lifecycle, reporting and analytics services can be integrated allowing for a greater specification. This way, developers will have complete control over the deployment of the API.

They give developers a chance to have complete control over the design, implementation, and the entire lifecycle of the API. Developers will also be able to build function-specific APIs that meet certain requirements.

Some cons associated with first-party APIs include;

First-party APIs are expensive to develop and consume a lot of time in the development phase as well as its constant upkeep. Organizations are required to have a budget set for all the work and make sure that they have enough time for the API’s entire lifecycle.

There is the possibility of a new feature creeping in during the development phase. It is normal for the requirements of a development project to increase during development due to variables that might not have been seen originally. This tends to be costly.

What is a Third-Party API?

A third-party API is developed out of the house and is less specialized compared to first-party APIs. They also include APIs incorporated into a system, such as Facebook API. 

Some advantages of using third-party APIs include;

They are much safer and efficient for developers who are not looking for an API that is specifically tailored to meet some requirements.

It saves developers a lot of time. For instance, developers working on a system that requires a maps platform can simply use the Google Maps API instead of developing a new map application.

Developers get a chance to focus on their application’s functionalities and rely on APIs for much more work.

Disadvantages of using third-party APIs include;

Third-party APIs come with specific requirements and regulations that might not be ideal when developing an API with highly specific needs.

Developers need to be very careful when using them because the security of these APIs depends on the work done by someone else.

If you are faced with a decision on whether to build a first-party API or use a third-party API, you will need to look at things such as your resources, infrastructure, overall goals, and budget. This way, you will be able to make the right decision.

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