An average user can't see how the operation of software works. Usually, users click some buttons, follow the links and see the result. But during this second, while the new page is opening or the payment is being completed, complex server processes and information exchange are occurring somewhere behind the curtain. All of this is based on how the API works.
API development takes a sufficient amount of time and equates to creating a full-fledged application. As soon as the need to develop API functionality arose, you most likely had the right question — how much does it cost?
It is difficult to provide an exact figure. Everything depends on the level of professionalism of the hired employees, the time spent on work, the purchase of paid services, etc.
We've broken down the development process into significant steps to determine how long it takes to build an API and figure out how much money you'll have to spend on it.
What is an API?
If you are interested in the cost of an API, then most likely, you are already familiar with the concept.
An API — Application Programming Interface — is a collection of functions and instruments through which one program can interact with another. Using the API, you can extend the functionality of your application.
The API links different software, receiving requests and sending responses. Thanks to the API, the software can request functions over the network.
It is the software interface that helps simplify the work of users and programmers. Users do not need to detail how exactly the functions work in the applications on their devices. For programmers, it is easier to connect products without studying other developers' code.
How does it work?
Let's look at an example of a website. When a user interacts with content on the site, he interacts with the remote server API. How do you pay for tickets on the website? It is possible because the site is connected to an online payment gateway that allows users to purchase online. It results from the API work, which sends a request to the payment system.
Why should your business use an API?
API will help conduct transactions, increase process security, develop its products, and integrate data with customers and partners.
The API makes developers work faster. Instead of wasting time creating new functionality, you can use APIs and embed them in software.
The API makes it easy to configure how your product interacts with other services and programs. Again, developers need to use the API to integrate a service without contacting its creator.
The benefits and opportunities of creating an API make businesses start the API development. However, everyone knows that this is not the cheapest process. Let's understand and estimate the cost and feasibility of spending so much money on API development.
How much does it cost to develop an API?
API development is a critical step in the software development process. Therefore, think carefully about the resources you are ready to allocate. The common issue — is how much money you need to spend on development. Let's analyze everything step by step.
The first and the most expensive decision will be to hire a developer. Developers are among the most highly paid specialists on the market.
We looked at the online marketplaces for freelancers and other services. An hourly developer salary starts at $15. But most likely, for such a small amount, mainly Juniors and students will be willing to work and not even in a full-time position. The average bill for a decent job will cost you around $50 an hour. Multiply this by the number of work hours, and you will see a huge total price. Startups, for example, cannot afford such an investment.
Apart from that, everything is highly dependent on the development time. The active work process includes several stages, for each of which you sometimes have to lay out an additional amount of money.
The process of building a software interface, like any other, starts with research. Your task is to collect as much information as possible: determine the semantics of the domain, what architectural style to apply, what data sources to use. This step will form a further work plan.
As a rule, the research takes up to 3-5 days. It means that we can add a few dozen more hours of work to the costs.
Preparing the database
The next step will be the structuring of the database. Since we usually start projects from scratch, the database most likely does not exist. Therefore, you have to set aside resources and time to create the database structure and fill it with primary data.
To test the API, you need to run a prototype application. This way, developers can get feedback and evaluate functionality through tests. After testing and making the required improvements, you can run the MVP.
In the development process, you need to consider a few more important aspects for which additional time is allocated.
Access control. Better to secure access with API keys and also implement role-based access control.
Security is an essential aspect of how an API works. It includes working with restrictions that decrease the possibility someone will use the API to transfer large amounts of data out of your organization. Build a reliable security system into the API structure to secure the data.
Documentation is needed for both your employees and external users who will use your API. Developing a practical and understandable knowledge base could take a very long time. It may be necessary to involve additional resources and purchase some platform for posting documentation with public access.
Deployment and maintenance. Deployment is one of the last stages that includes server configuration, load balancing, and failover activities. After that, you stick with further maintenance of the functionality: interface improvements and support, constant documentation update, performance improvements, and so on.
Technical support will constantly require some investment from you. Be prepared for unexpected expenses.
You will need to create an effective marketing plan, hire new specialists, or use the internal marketing team to promote the API and reach the target audience.
Each stage takes at least a few days of work, requires hiring new employees and implementing paid third-party services.
Considering all of the factors, we can confidently say that developing an API will cost you a lot of money. The development cost is estimated at approximately $15,000-$ 20,000. Is it expensive? Certainly! Not every organization can afford such expenses, not being sure about the return on investment.
Are there any alternatives?
You can use the no-code AppMaster.io platform for building an API. AppMaster.io is a code-generating platform that develops an API for the products you build on the platform.
AppMaster.io uses REST API technology. This technology (Representational State Transfer) receives and modifies the data and uses HTTP requests to access data.
The platform automatically generates API documentation and saves it in OpenAPI format on the back end of the application.
The platform will do everything for you. You will have to change something manually only when integrating the application with other resources.
If you still have a hard time understanding some technical aspects, you can hire a part-time programmer to help with it. It will be cheaper than developing an API with a team of developers. Depending on the features offered, AppMaster.io has several types of subscriptions — $169 and $259 per month. There is also the option to request a custom price.
Even taking into account the additional costs, the total amount when working with a no-code platform will be less than $15,000, even if you decide to hire a professional. Although the average pay rate of a no-code programmer will most likely stay at the same level, the development time will be significantly reduced, which, of course, will lower the total cost. Creating an application using a no-code platform takes about two weeks. And with traditional development, it will take at least a month to create an API, and the exact timeframe is even more difficult to predict. When using the no-code platform, you can divide the entire cost (that $15,000 that we estimated) by 2-3 times. What is more, the tool will do 80% of the work for you. It doesn't sound bad.
If you are seriously thinking about API development, make a thorough comparison of all the possibilities. Should you spend that amount of money when you can obtain the same high-quality result with much lesser expenses?