An illustration of API first, with a finger clicking on an API.
July 28, 2021

Is API First Still Relevant?

Digital Transformation

API first has been a popular strategy for years. But what is it? And is API first still relevant?

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What Is API First?

API first is an approach to development in which your APIs are considered first-class citizens. This means that everything you’re developing is developed with the end goal of API consumption in mind. In API first development, APIs are no longer an afterthought — they’re a differentiator.

In code-first development, you focus on building the service and its resources. Your developers are making the decisions and creating the API. With code-first development, there’s always a risk of not delivering what the consumer needs.

With API first development, your focus shifts to consumer needs via a feedback loop, then building out the service. This helps you make sure you’re building the right API the first time —  every time.

Why Is an API First Strategy Popular?

API first is a popular strategy. It’s so essential for getting your digital transformation strategy right, in a timely manner with optimal resource utilization.

Development teams want to use different components as building blocks to create new products. And APIs are the key to success. In fact, with an API-first approach, you can create ecosystems of applications that are modular and reusable — which is ideal for microservices.

Considerations for API First Development

For API-first development, it’s important to consider API design. What are your API requirements? How will you design your API? What functionality will it have? How will it scale as your application evolves?

In API first development, you must think first about the API. How will the application act as a user of the API? How will the API connect the application to other services?

It takes careful planning, strategy, and an iterative approach to get your API first approach right. But when you do, it comes with many benefits.

👉 Become an Expert in APIs

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Challenges With API First Development

API first development is collaborative and delivers many benefits. But there’s still one big challenge that remains. And that’s optimization of datasets.

Let’s say you start with your API first approach. Then you build an application that is going to use the API to access a specific set of data.

What happens when you need to modify that application or build another application that needs to use that API? Well, you’ll need to build another API — or modify the first one.

But what if you could start with the data — and then build one API that can provide governed access to all of it?

That’s exactly what you can do with GraphQL. You can use GraphQL — with one API — to  meet the needs of data consumers faster and accelerate your time-to-market. You won’t have to constantly build new APIs or update existing ones.

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So, Is API First Still Relevant?

API first is still relevant today. And many businesses are still leveraging API first strategies. But it’s not as innovative of an approach as it used to be. We’ve heard from several businesses embarking on digital transformations who are considering a different paradigm — data first.

A data first approach allows you to ensure that data gets to where it needs to go. It goes beyond point-to-point APIs and ensures that data is available to those who need to access it at any given time.

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Why Some Companies Are Moving From API First to Data First

Here at Akana, we see the future as a data first approach.


Data is the most important asset a business owns. By taking a data first approach, you build your strategy around a variety of API patterns that include REST, SOAP (yes, it is still very prevalent), GraphQL, and async APIs. API first, synonymous with REST, is just one of a variety of approaches.

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Build Your Data First and API First Strategies With Akana

Whether you’re leveraging a data first or API first strategy, you can set your business up for success by choosing the Akana API platform.

With Akana, you can:

  • Accelerate time-to-market with API automation.
  • Enable greater innovation by eliminating manual processes.
  • Support API adoption with a top-notch API marketplace.
  • Gain flexibility to support application development for releases to come.
  • Deliver better user experiences and increase customer satisfaction.

That’s because the Akana API platform has everything you need to succeed with an API first or data first strategy — from GraphQL to asynchronous APIs and beyond!

You get access to an out-of-the-box developer portal, where you can publish, promote, and monetize APIs. Plus, you get access to the Akana API gateway, so you can secure APIs and control access to different applications. And you’ll get everything you need to monitor and support your APIs throughout the lifecycle.

See for yourself what Akana can do for your business.


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