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What is an API-first company?

API-first is the new model of software development in which applications are conceptualized and built as an interconnection of internal and external services through APIs.

An API-first company is an organization that has adopted the API-first development model.

Before API-first, there was code-first.

Code-first is a development model in which applications are built by welding together monolithic pieces of code in cumbersome, fragile ways. Issues and outages are frequent. Developers at code-first companies waste time dealing with problems, and innovation is often hampered by the limitations of yesterday’s technology.

Unfortunately, most companies are still code-first companies, and most companies want to become API-first.


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Are you an API-first company?

API-first companies answer yes to all the following questions:

  • Do you have APIs to operate most of your data?
  • Do you make APIs available to your customers and partners?
  • Do you know how to organize and discover your APIs?
  • Do you have standardized processes to build APIs?
  • Do your APIs meet regulatory requirements?
  • Do you know the security risk to your API perimeter?

Can't answer yes to all the above questions? Keep reading to learn why and how companies are becoming API-first.


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Why should you become an API-first company?

API-first companies:

  • Build innovative products faster
  • Build higher-quality products
  • Minimize regulatory and security risks

Developers at API-first companies:

  • Focus on innovation rather than recreating mundane software
  • Choose the technologies, platforms, and programming languages that they like
  • Take pride in the quality of the software that they've built

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How do you become an API-first company?

Take the following actions to become an API-first company:

  1. Inventory your databases, applications, and services—understand exactly how many APIs you have, and where you lack APIs
  2. Understand your organization's approach to producing APIs—identify where standard processes exist, and where they don't
  3. Define your business domain boundaries and map your organizational structure to those boundaries
  4. Adopt an API platform, and standardize on it
  5. Train your engineering, DevOps, and product management teams on API-first practices

Build your first API-first API!


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Developers at API-first companies are happier.

Developers at API-first companies:

  • Don't waste time debugging someone else's code
  • Don't waste time in meetings
  • Aren’t limited by yesterday’s technology
  • Create beautiful software
  • Actually like being on call, because issues are rare and easier to fix

Still curious about API-first?

Check out Breaking Changes—the weekly API talk show hosted by Postman Chief Evangelist Kin Lane—where industry leaders discuss, debate, and solve the latest topics around APIs and API-first

Learn More