Definition

API-centric application

Contributor(s): Kevin Ferguson

An API-centric application is a web service that is built using application programming interfaces (APIs) to exchange data with other applications. All of the functionality of this type of app is done through API calls that allow the frontend and backend to communicate. The model of service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a key concept in the development of API-centric applications.

API-centric applications are built by designing functions and classes that are interoperable with other components and can be implemented in any language. The backend of the app is used to facilitate data exchange with components such as operating systems, databases and other APIs. It is saved on a server that can be configured to a variety of client frontend interfaces like social media channels, browsers and devices.

Because today's applications employ multiple interfaces, a single application needs to connect to them all. A few popular vendors that offer API management platforms for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor and secure API-centric applications include AWS, Apigee, Google, IBM, Microsoft, MuleSoft, Oracle and Red Hat.

Advantages of API-centric applications

A few benefits of creating API-centric applications include:

  • Software development is quicker and easier.
  • Can take input from or execute functionality on any user device.
  • Lower code maintenance and higher code continuity.
  • Facilities the adoption of IoT, the platform economy, digitization and automation.
  • Stateless characteristics force developers to focus on functionality.
  • Easier to test, update and troubleshoot.
  • Saves time by reusing code and taking advantage of public, published APIs.

Importance of API-centric applications

The API-centric approach ensures that companies can develop code once and then distribute services across digital channels, devices and interfaces. API-centric architecture that allows third-party develops to easily access and connect to the main application can serve as a revenue stream for the application’s owners. For example, a popular travel web site or online retailer can charge third-party developers for access to the API code.

Similarly, the web site can distribute its products and services to new audiences that would have access via the third-party applications. Aside from facilitating access by third-party developers across the web, API-centric models enable application integration with external business-to-business and within an enterprise, itself.

This was last updated in August 2019

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