API development is a process which plenty of businesses and individuals enter into for a variety of reasons.
In terms of calculating a suitable time frame within which development can take place, there are lots of variables to consider.
If you are eager to learn how long it takes to develop an API today, read on for an investigation of the factors that will determine this.

What is an API?

APIs allow apps and services to interact with one another, usually to share data and thus enable functions and features to be made available without requiring additional developmental resources and infrastructure.
Over the course of its lifecycle, an API needs to be designed, managed and maintained. And if you want to offer your own apps and services to third parties, then you will of course need a bespoke API to achieve this.

Your skills and resources matter most

When it comes to determining deadlines for API development, a combination of your skills, experience level and the resources you have at your disposal will be the main things to weigh up.
If you are already a coding whiz kid, or you are happy to hire someone that falls into this category, then you could breeze through the initial stages of development in a short span of time, perhaps even hours or minutes.
If, on the other hand, you are a total newcomer and you need to learn the ropes of programming languages before you even attempt to delve deeper into the world of APIs, then it could take months or even years to get your project up and running.
As with most things in life, the more grounding you have and the more money you can spare to throw at a problem, the faster progress will be made.

The scope of your API is significant

Another element which can either accelerate or hold up API development is the scope and scale of what you want it to do.
If it is providing straightforward functionality and is expected to deal with small volumes of calls, then it could be developed and provisioned with the right hardware in no time.
If it is offering a more challenging, complex set of services for apps to harness, and is expected to accommodate a lot of calls once it goes live, then more time and effort will need to be poured into the development process.

Platform choice can change things

There are several different platforms and frameworks for creating APIs, each with their own pros and cons, including the amount of time it will take to develop with them.
While your skills and qualifications still matter here, it is also a reality that the simplicity of certain programming languages and their API frameworks can speed up development, potentially at the expense of flexibility and customization.
For example, Ruby on Rails is deemed to be more accessible and intuitive than something like a Java-based framework such as Spring Boot. That is not to say that this will be true for every user, but it is a good rule of thumb to set your expectations by.

Concluding considerations

As you can see, there is no clear cut way to set a schedule for API development without also knowing a few specific facts about your circumstances, needs, resources and skills.
If you have all these pieces of information to hand, estimating a completion timeline is not that tricky, but you also need to be ready for bumps in the road that might derail your best laid development plans.


Claire Ward