At an early point in the API development process, an API team will need to decide: what should their API toolkit be like? What’s the best standard for interfacing with API software? And ultimately, which standard would allow ease of growth without holding the rest of the company’s resources?
As a response to such important questions, companies launching API products typically choose between open API specifications and private (or “closed”) API systemswith exclusive toolkits. Open API specification is a standard whose qualities comprise public, openly available, and language-agnostic functionality for RESTful APIs. For open APIs, this specification serves as a guided standard for API development using open-sourced data. In a nutshell, open API specification is a framework for how to adapt open resources to enhance or create brand-new APIs.
The opposite of open API specification is a closed approach. This means that only one contracting organization will have access to the proprietary API software. There’s a lot to enjoy about using a closed API development system, especially the control and privacy that it affords its users. However, a number of companies—like fledgling SMEs or startups—don’t have the funds to invest in exclusive software.
And that’s why it is often the open API
standard that saves the day. Using open API platforms like Stoplight is ideal for those who want extensive and yet cost-efficient development
resources. But before you commit to open API tooling, here’s some valuable
information that you need to know.
The Benefits and the Detriments of Open API Specification
Open API specification affords some other key benefits besides cost savings. Among the biggest benefits that you can reap from this standard are:
- You’ll have access to software that was built on the shoulders of giants. Most of the open API resources available today were created by some of the tech world’s prodigies. One prominent example is that of Swagger, whose language-agnostic API specification framework helped many developers get off to a strong start. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking that private APIs are the only APIs with prestige. Thanks to the pedigree of today’s open API systems, choosing to work with an open API specification could bring equal glory to your company.
- Your implementation is likely to be stable considering the strong foundation it draws from. With so many active and talented contributors in the open API pool, even a less established company need not worry about having stable implementation. There’s no dearth of co-functional, developer-friendly solutions that you can depend on.
- Open API specification prioritizes collaboration. Frankly, it’s open API platforms that are best in bringing large groups of developers together. They become one in the tasks of creating, testing, and documenting API code. Following this standard will be exactly what your company’s developers need if they want to be truly immersed in the API community.
Like any other framework, however, open API development has its drawbacks. Some of the ones you should watch out for are:
- Using open API specification means dealing with complex challenges. The framework may be highly inclusive, but there’s also a wealth of resources that developers will have to figure out. Your team will need to figure out which of the features adhere to the coding language they’re comfortable with, which third-party extensions will work on the project, and so on. It’s a lot of work that they should be willing to do.
- No developer should think of open API specification as a band-aid solution or one-size-fits-all approach. It’s a wide world, but for sure, there are also some limitations to using open API specification. It’s not compatible with every single API out there. Your team will have to get good at choosing, using, and adapting their toolset in a way that improves the API. They should be constructive in their use, and not dependent on development shortcuts.
Should Your Company Adopt an Open API Standard?
In the end, there are lot of possibilities for your API development. It really depends on what kind of standard you are willing to explore and use for yourselves. But based on the arguments presented above, working with an open API standard may truly serve you well.