How Adopting an Agile API Methodology Can Improve Your Development Process


She is a digital nomad at heart, has always been passionate about helping remote team members create and maintain a collaborative working environment. She specializes in helping remote workers, especially developers, come up with ways to improve their performance and boost their overall productivity.

The dictionary definition of the term “agile” yields the words “nimble,” “lightweight,” and “able to move around easily.” These same words do apply in the parlance of software development. But to software developers—particularly the kind that work with application programming interfaces, or APIs—the term “agility” is usually understood within a particular context. Software development processes that follow an agile methodology take their cue from the Agile Manifesto, which hit off in the early 2000s. A counter-movement to the traditional “waterfall” style of software development, the agile philosophy advocated for the following:

  • Development work that’s done in short, productive cycles
  • Shearing down of costs due to delays and over-budgeting for development work
  • Abandonment of methods that were too rigid or restrictive
  • Greater stakeholder engagement not just among developers, but among business clients

Unfortunately, “agile” has become such a ubiquitous buzz phrase, even among those who are not involved in tech. That results in the tendency to think that all software products, like APIs, are agile by default when that’s certainly not the case. In truth, an API is a product that can be designed either through an agile methodology or through a waterfall methodology. As a developer, your job is to discern which of these will work best for your product-in-the-making.
That said, what follows below is a treatise especially for the agile methodology. Keep reading to learn why the agile methodology suits modern API design, and what benefits it will have on your own development process.

What Makes an API Development Process Agile?

The first things you need to know about agile API methodology pertain to what distinguishes it from its predecessor, the waterfall approach. Here are four points of comparison.

A Nonlinear Design Approach

Traditional waterfall software development advocates a linear design approach. That means that developers can’t move onto the next stage without finishing the first. But modern APIs mostly follow a nonlinear trajectory of development. Tasks like mocking, stubbing, and documentation aren’t relegated to just one stage. Thus, it’s best to follow a methodology that already suits this design approach for APIs: the agile methodology.

Teamwork as Well as Tools

One of the pitfalls of the earlier iterations of waterfall development were their reliance on fancy but burdensome toolsets. Not enough emphasis was put on the work of the software developers or the team members that actually used those tools. The agile methodology, on the other hand, upholds the value of lightweight and functional tools and their marriage to nimble, adaptable developers. Hosted toolsets like the Stoplight API design studio are a boon to today’s highly flexible API developers.

Sprint Development Cycles

Another unique component of agile methodology is its utilization of sprints. These short spurts of development work, typically between two and four weeks long, were held to cut down the costs of slow waterfall development. By assigning fixed durations to one full cycle of work, sprints inspired higher productivity as well as greater savings on behalf of the API company. The kind of work API developers do can surely fit into the timeframe of several sprints. The sprint method may also encourage API developers to observe greater discipline and purposefulness in their work.

Special Attention to the Feedback Loop

Yet another special characteristic of the agile methodology is its responsiveness to changes. The Agile Manifesto puts a premium on the feedback loop and pays special attention to what the software’s users want. This principle should be especially useful in API development, which takes the end user’s satisfaction in the service into account. For API developers to engage more deeply with their users and craft the most responsive products, it’s a good idea to follow the agile methodology.

What Are the Benefits of an Agile API Methodology?

When all these factors about agile methodology are taken into consideration, they yield some important benefits to your API. The four best reasons to adopt an agile API methodology are the following.

It’s Flexible

This method can be adapted for every stage of API development. Your team can try completing design work or testing work in sprints, like the agile methodology recommends. You may also be pleased about the lightweight work and creativity that this framework encourages in your fellow developers.

It’s Highly User-Driven

This approach may make you and your teammates better listeners to your API users. It’s from them that you’ll get the best inspiration for what features to include and what improvements to make on subsequent versions.

It Can Quickly Get an API Product to Market

As all API developers know, the longer it takes for their product to hit the market, the more money the company will lose. An agile API methodology will mitigate unnecessary costs from delays and inspire purposeful design work that’s also on schedule.

It Can Align Easily with Business Client’s Values

Ultimately, what should guide your decision to be more “agile” in your development process? It should be your ease in aligning with your business client’s values. It shouldn’t be hard for you to adapt your API into the product your client needs it to be. An agile development process makes it possible for you to mold your API into the ideal service for its intended user base.

Conclusion: Should You Adopt an API Methodology with Agile Principles?

The short answer is: yes! There are several important payoffs to adopting an agile API methodology, given current trends in modern API development. Don’t tie yourself down to an overly restrictive development process, and enjoy maximum freedom, collaboration, and creativity the agile way.

November 2022 Release Notes

Here’s what’s new in our November 2022 Release Notes:

* Improved data exports for our custom solutions;
* Stabilized backend environment for smoother workspace data refreshes;
* Flexible pagination;

Read More »

Did you like our content?

Spread the word

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Don't miss our latest updates.
All About Software Engineering Best Practices, Productivity Measurement, Performance Analytics, Software Team Management and more.

Did you like our content?

Spread the word

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Don't miss our latest updates. All About Software Engineering Best Practices, Productivity Measurement, Performance Analytics, Software Team Management and more.