You might have developed a resilient mobile application, but you will always need an Application Programming Interface (API) that enhances the application’s responsiveness. If you are already familiar with the concept, you probably know that the API serves as a connecting bridge between the frontend and the backend.
Say, for instance, you visit the Starbucks cafeteria. You enter the cafe and directly interact with the cafe manager to place your order. Well, you are not at liberty to interact with the kitchen operator directly. The manager processes your order and passes it on to the kitchen. Your order is prepared in the kitchen and delivered to you at the reception. It is, in the same way, an API function.
Speaking contextually, the user is the front-end, the reception/manager is the API, and the kitchen is the application’s backend. I guess this is the simplest way in which you can understand the working of an API and its importance for a mobile application.
Every mobile app development company either uses third-party APIs or develops in-house APIs. The entire process of building functional APIs is quite taxing, and companies usually do not want to invest resources and time behind designing a good API. Additionally, big giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook provide competitive APIs for backend services.
However, in this blog, we plan to target companies, developers who wish to build restful API for mobile applications. Knowing about the process and setting up guidelines will only help you make the entire process less stressful. Yes, it is our expert’s knowledge that we will like to share with you all. If you do not want to get into the trouble of developing one, you can also hire our mobile app developers, who would help you do that. Let’s begin this blog by knowing about RESTful API in detail.
What is API? and What is a RESTful API?
As defined in Wikipedia,
“An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software or mixed hardware-software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. It can also provide extension mechanisms so that users can extend existing functionality in various ways and to varying degrees.
An API is responsible for detecting interactions between your mobile app and the backend. It receives a communication request in the front-end and processes it at the backend.
Let’s discuss RESTful API. REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. Just like any other API, RESTful API handles the requests received in the browser. It is lightweight and runs on HTTP for processing requests.
By building a restful API for your mobile application, you allow your users to respond to requests which include, delete, update or create data in the given file. RESTful API works on the server-side and is cacheable. This feature enhances the performance drastically.
In this process, no data is stored on the server; instead, the front-end does all the storing and hence, the requests are handled faster. A popular example of REST API is Google calendar API.
What are the advantages of creating a really great RESTful API?
- RESTful APIs ensure high performance of the mobile application;
- Also, it is easy to write RESTful API interaction code;
- RESTful APIs support quick and easy development;
- It also extends authentication support;
- RESTful API is extremely lightweight, fast, and scalable;
- RESTful APIs have the potential to handle multiple concurrent requests;
- It also offers streaming support;
In the next section, we will proceed with how to build a restful API for your mobile app? And how RESTful API makes the difference specifically from a mobile app perspective.
My company’s approach on “how to create an API for the mobile app” might differ from yours. Meaning, every company has a different lens and uses different programming languages for building an API. However, to ensure that you have a seamless mobile app API, you need to know some standard points that can help you and your team in building an API as per your expectation.
RESTful API sends requests and responses via HTTP protocol. But, there are some mobile-specific concerns that need to be addressed before you proceed with the RESTful API creation.
Use HTTPS, instead of HTTP:
Though the website would fetch responses with HTTP, for faster responses on mobile applications, HTTPS is favorable. Mobile applications need modern encryption and trusted signed certificates for functioning powerfully.
You should be using HTTPS throughout the mobile app development lifecycles, including development, production environments, staging, everywhere. This will help you save a lot of time and effort when you think of migrating to another environment. Additionally, it will help you catch the security issues that can cause damage to the application.
Users do a little, whereas servers do the most:
If you plan that your mobile application stores the data and sends responses, it will probably crash your mobile application. Hence, it is important that you use an API capable enough to handle the burden of queries and respond powerfully. Additionally, the data needs to be synchronized across all the user’s devices which can be managed with a RESTful API smoothly.
Server’s downtime is a big-time No No:
You probably know that tech users have a big mouth when it comes to mobile apps of their choice. Additionally, this especially holds true for mobile applications that fail to notify users of the error messages when the app fails to respond. RESTful API-based servers can help you overcome this issue.
Assists in designing Push Notifications:
Push Notification is a must-have feature for mobile applications. You need high-quality servers that can instantly catch up with the users’ change in location and send them notifications about the same.
Responsive even when there is no internet connection:
The real challenge lies here. Every user expects their app to function the same in the absence of an internet connection. However, it is quite a difficult thing to comply with. But a user expects your mobile app to reconcile the data with the server as soon as the internet connection establishes.
What are the other things that you need to consider for planning your RESTful API?
Well, you will need support from an experienced app development company as you move forward with the building. And thus, we come into the picture. We will help you in addressing all your RESTful API-specific questions such as server hosting, backend architecture, selection of tools, selection of database, and a lot more.
It is quite a responsible task to select a server location for your mobile application. You can pick up cloud-hosting services depending on what your project demands. The selection of server hosting depends on certain factors.
You need to evaluate certain factors before deciding on the server hosting. Say, for example, you need to know how you plan to scale your resources. How buying a particular server service will help you organize and increase its usage. How does your selected server take care of the system, and how does it handle the migration etc.
Whichever data service you choose, it should support HTTPS and trusted CA certificates. As mentioned above, we recommend using HTTPS over HTTP because they are more secure. You can use OAuth2 or any other online libraries available rather than creating your own.
You should understand the sensitivity of data and encrypt the same wherever necessary.
Define the architecture:
Any mobile app development process will have three crucial backend environments, development, staging, and production; All of these are continuously integrated, and development changes are released. The staging stage is almost similar to the production environment. Therefore, it is important that you use realistic data at each stage, which will help you mitigate any potential risk at the production stage.
Selecting the database:
As you all know, the UUIDs should not be sequential but random. By doing this, you can ensure the security of the resources, making it difficult for anyone to predict.
Also, you can use MySQL or MariaDB or MongoDB or NoSQL for storing data across the platform. All of these databases have their own scalability parameters, advantages, and disadvantages. You can sit with an app development team to discuss and decide on a suitable database for your project.
Using the right tools:
The entire team involved in the mobile app design process and development will require tens of hundreds of tools to get the job done. These tools might be for enhancing the communication between teams or to get work done.
Additionally, it is important for you to track the progress of the project. We recommend that you use Trello or similar tools to get the job done. It will help you assign the task individually and make people responsible for their work. By using a tool, you can bring the entire set of teams working together on the project on the table and sync the workflow.
Also, this will help you track the changes in the API or find out the cause for delay or any negative impact on development. The testing suite should provide enough documentation to see how the system works. The technical documentation will help you explore the requests, responses, and all the error codes. Some of the documentation tools that we recommend that you use are
Swagger offers open-source tools for creating RESTful API. It has a pool of libraries & server templates that can assist you in the best possible way. Additionally, Swagger offers support to a large number of languages.
Apiary is also an open-source tool that you can use for creating RESTful API. However, this tool focuses majorly on design components.
We hope that you find this guide helpful in creating your RESTful API. Great RESTful API development will help you develop apps that are highly reliable, popular, and portable. For any further questions on RESTful API development, contact our experts who can help you discover all the aspects of API development. What more are you looking for? Call us today!