When broaching the topic of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), it is impossible not to bring up the publicly available technology that makes design even easier. Namely, OpenAPI Specification or OpenAPI.
This means that API designers, developers, and users need a variety of tools at their disposal. This is made possible with the broad programmatic access of OpenAPI, and the advantages granted by ownership of a complete OpenAPI Specification.
For first-time entrants into the OpenAPI ecosystem, here’s a brief guide on what makes it “open.” What’s more, find out how it differs from the infrastructure of private APIs. Most importantly, why delving into OpenAPI might prove the best decision in building your API project.
OpenAPI: Definitions to Live By
Off the bat, OpenAPI has some definitive functions tied to it. The three core characteristics of open APIs are:
- they are available to both developers and users with relatively few restrictions;
- they are backed by open data (which is free for anyone to use or republish); and
- they are based on an open standard.
Open APIs differ in scope, accessibility, and even cost to private APIs. Private APIs are interfaces that are only available to a company’s in-house developers or contractors. For some institutions, the heightened speed, control, and communication in working within their internal systems are worth the expenditure.
In contrast, OpenAPI makes it easy for just about anyone to access backend data for their purposes. As long as the development team is ready to face occasional challenges in terms of security or creative control, it will prove a boon companion.
Why Use OpenAPI?
To give you more detail on why you should consider using OpenAPI, here are five detailed arguments. These may come in handy when you’re due to make big decisions on your API’s development.
OpenAPI Specification is tied to incredibly flexible, innovative API design tools
Tapping into the world of the OpenAPI Initiative, which oversees OpenAPI specification, will enable you to work with machine-readable interface files. It will enable you to describe, produce, consume, and visualize RESTful web services. You’ll have access to a range of tools—particularly those from ground-breaking open-source software framework Swagger. It will make it even easier to generate code for, document, and test your API.
OpenAPI tools can help you build client libraries in a breadth of languages
OpenAPI partner Swagger also dispenses tools like Codegen to help you build a client library, or a “helper’s library” of code that developers can add to their projects. Such libraries are available and can operate in 40 languages or more.
OpenAPI can help you generate interactive and engaging API documentation
Upkeep of excellent API documentation, or the body of reference on how to use and adopt the API, is another big advantage of using tools on OpenAPI.
For example, Swagger’s interface enables testing for API calls right in the browser. It is a visual environment that’s quite easy on the eyes.
Opting to design along OpenAPI may be cheaper and more profitable
Though highly efficient, private API infrastructure can be pricey. So, they might not be the best option for a lean and budget-conscious API development team. However, once you’ve learned both the limits and the possibilities of open-sourced tools, you’ll be able to save money and earn quickly on the design, and eventual launch, of your API.
OpenAPI is highly adaptable to today’s API workforce
There’s a wide and ever-evolving labor economy behind API development nowadays, and it comprises startups, remote workers, and freelance developers. The OpenAPI environment is one that allows for optimum collaboration and ease of use among parties like these. If you’re involved in a startup or work with developers on a part-time, remote basis, OpenAPI will help you all achieve high-quality output regardless.
As it would be with any other API development framework, making OpenAPI work for you is a matter of aligning it to your project goals and maximizing all the tools available to you. Here’s to learning more about OpenAPI technology and leveraging it toward your unique API product!