It can be said without doubt that web solutions changed the world drastically and in addition offered us endless business possibilities. Nowadays every sphere of life requires an app or a website. It has become easier than ever for both startupers and experienced entrepreneurs to enter the digital market and gain an attention of potential customers.
And while some entrepreneurs may afford investing a lot of money in developing a high-quality app and waiting for a certain period of time till it’s released, startupers need to proceed with the development faster due to limited time and budget. And this is exactly when third-party integrations come handy. So let’s discover all specificities of third-party integrations and see if they are really the best helpers, when it comes to building a reliable web application.
Understanding 3rd-party integration
In general, the term ‘third-party integration’ means addition of necessary external data to an existing project using different APIs (Application Program Interfaces). Due to the third-party APIs the developers are able to build a new solution in a shorter period of time, using already existing components instead of creating a code for new ones from scratch. For example, if you want to create an app for ordering some goods online, you may need a chat within it. So instead of creating a new chat interface, the developers can simply take an available API and integrate it into your solution. It’s as simple as that!
Uber is probably the most well-known app that is built using numerous API integrations. It uses Google Maps for navigation, Braintree for payment operations and Twilio for chatting. It functions perfectly and can be called the top solution in passenger transportation niche. (Source)
No wonder third-party integrations seem so appealing. But although they are able to boost the production significantly, they have a flipside that should not be neglected. If an app is built using way too many third-party integrations, this can possibly cause major drawbacks in its performance in the future. The quality of the project is what defines its success and relevance, so it should not be sacrificed.
We will revert to the question regarding disadvantages of APIs integrations a bit later, and now let’s point out some of their benefits:
- Quicker production. As it was mentioned before, third-party integrations allow your tech takes to save time greatly. The months that could have been spent on coding are reduced to days spent on integrating. This leaves enough time for other crucial processes of the development cycle.
- Lower cost. You can cut down expenses on man-hours. If you save money, you can invest it later into improving your app by adding some unique features to it. Therefore you can start with a smaller and yet effective project and make it bigger and better.
- The best features. By utilizing third-party integrations you can add the best possible features to your app. Many companies are real experts in a certain field and their solutions are impeccable. If your developers use their APIs, you will avoid many unnecessary challenges while app production.
Main Cons and Concerns
It may be very tempting to make less efforts while the development and get a cheap and secure project in the end, however you should be wise and take into account all possible risks. Too many third-party integrations can make your solution ineffective and make you invest in it even more than you planned. Your web app can face numerous critical issues after being on the market for some time. And here is what can happen:
- Your app infrastructure can become chaotic. The external dependencies that are used for the main service of the app can increase. This can become a major obstacle when you will try pulling the data from the API providers, especially when they all have different latency time and service-level agreements.
- You may be forced to invest more money. Situations when a provider decides to change the API or data policy happen quite often. This causes an issue when API requests cannot work properly and bring back the expected results and the app itself or its certain options become non-functioning. This totally ruins smooth user experience. Moreover, to fix such issues you will have to seek developers help and pay for it.
- You cannot control every functional aspect. Some API providers do not pay much attention to customer service. Therefore in case when something stops working correctly, you can never rely on timely issue resolutions. Either your developers team will be searching for a temporary workaround, or you will have to leave everything as it is waiting till the issue is fixed on the other side. Both options will increase the cost of your project.
- You don’t choose but simply use offered technology. The providers of third-party integrations tend to take into account the demands of their narrow audience and do not show flexibility when it comes to your personal needs. Therefore, their APIs may not necessarily be a perfect fit for your project and you will have to compromise your requirements (both functional and technological).
Third-party APIs and your project cost
If you consider adding third-party integrations to your web app, bear in mind these three financial aspects:
- The more integrations you want to add, the higher will be the final cost of your project. It is easy to explain this dependency: bigger project requires more tech takes. So if you value code quality, you will need to hire the best developers able to utilize all required third-party APIs and make them work like a charm.
- Third-party integrations require more holistic testing. This means that you will need to hire qualified testers to check the compatibility and interaction of your app and provider’s API.
- Implementation of technically complex APIs will require constant reliable maintenance. So get ready to pay extra for the necessary team.
To integrate or not to integrate?
Always try to make a reasonable decision and evaluate all financial risks and benefits before choosing to utilize third-party integrations. The main advice we would give you is to question the necessity and logic of a certain integration for your app and always take into account your target audience. Because, after all, the main purpose of your web application is to make user experience much better, not more complicated.