Choosing between feature development from scratch and integrating API is a real challenge for those who need to decide. Both ways have unique pros to make the product better or expand it.
The best way to make it right is to consider both ways’ advantages, processes, and situations where you can use it to get the maximum profit. It will allow you to see the full-scale picture and choose between developing a feature from scratch and integrating API.
Feature Development from scratch
Developing the feature instead of just integrating the existing one is the right decision if you need:
- A custom user interface must provide users with a unique experience using it. It is important in the travel industry, where travel tech companies want to win the competition with other companies in meeting users’ specific needs and demands. In such a case, it is better to allocate resources to develop it from scratch. A bright example is Airbnb’s user interface, which is intuitive and simple for users;
- Complex business logic is another vital reason for developing features on your own, as it demands the creation of unique functionality that specifically your product needs to perform certain actions or provide services;
- Performance-critical features like real-time data processing require a high level of performance. For example, in the travel industry, there is flight search which requires processing big amounts of data in real time to provide users with relevant information about flights.
Advantages of feature development from scratch
- The first and foremost advantage of developing features from scratch is greater control over the functionality. It means you can manipulate each aspect and ensure that it works exactly as you need and without any restrictions or limits as API integrations have. It depends on the project, but for the travel industry greater control over functionality can positively impact user experience.
- Customization. You need a custom feature that is designed to your requirements to make a unique user experience or meet the project’s specific needs and satisfy the target audience. While the existing API already has a designated and developed feature which may meet your needs with limited functionality, a developed feature gives you the freedom to customize it as you need and want.
Process of developing a feature from scratch
With all the advantages of the developed feature, it is crucial to understand the development process, its demands, and its timescale to objectively compare it with API integration.
- Requirements gathering involves collecting requirements to understand the purpose of the feature and what problem it solves. It is an essential part of the development process as it defines the whole process.
- Design. After collecting and approving the requirements of the feature, the next step is its design. It involves developing mockups, wireframes, and outlines of the feature look.
- Development of the feature. The core process of actually creating the feature. This step involves coding everything that was documented in the previous two steps.
- Testing. A crucial step as proper testing ensures that the feature will be as high quality as possible. During this step, the team conducts manual and automated testing to reveal all the possible bugs to remove them before the deployment. Remember that the sooner you find bugs, the easier and cheaper it is to fix them.
- Deployment. The final step is to deploy the feature for the users.
Examples of successful projects that benefited from developing a feature from scratch instead of integrating:
- Custom Search Algorithm in AirBNB. This developed-from-scratch feature provides users with personalized accommodations separated from competitors.
- Personalized deals in HotelTonight. Based on machine learning algorithms, it recommends hotels according to users’ preferences. It allows the product to provide users with a highly personalized experience.
- Price forecasts from Kayak. It predicts an increase or decrease in prices for flights or hotels, which helps customers to save money on travel.
- AI-powered flight booking in Hopper. This feature allows customers to find the most profitable deals by finding the best combination of price, convenience, and flexibility.
API Feature Integration
Despite all the advantages and profits of developing features from scratch, API feature integration has the following reasons to be chosen:
- Significantly reduced time of development, as integrating APIs saves time and resources thanks to already built functionality and services, which helps to speed up the development;
- A cost-effective solution in comparison to development from scratch;
- Specialized expertise and availability of a wide range of features and solutions, which can be even more useful than a team can develop in-house;
- Improved reliability and scalability.
What features are the fittest for integration?
API integration offers a large amount of features to integrate, but some of the most popular that people use the most:
- payment processing integrations allow a secure and efficient way to process payments using a range of the most popular and comfortable payment options for clients;
- mapping and location services;
- social media integration.
Process of integration API features
1. Researching available APIs is the first step when you need to find an API feature that fully meets your needs and demands, and the researching process includes: comparing them based on features, pricing, and if it is easy to use.
2. Considering the fittest API. To make the right decision, keep in mind the following factors: the quality of documentation, support, maintenance, and compatibility with your tech stack.
3. Integrating the feature process contains setting up the API, configuring it, and connecting to your codebase.
4. Testing the integration is the last but not the least important step where you ensure that the feature works as expected and correctly.
Examples of successful projects that benefited from integrating API instead of developing from scratch:
- Messaging and collaboration in Slack. There are various integrations like DropBox, Google Drive, or Trello.
- The Weather Channel uses API to integrate real-time weather data to provide its users with accurate weather forecasts.
- Uber integrates real-time maps and routing into their application, which increases the quality of user experience as they can see the location of the car and the estimated time of its arrival. Drivers also can use it to ride through unfamiliar areas.
Developing a feature from scratch is a boon choice if you need a custom feature that meets your specific requirements and needs, complex business logic, or performance-critical features. Additionally, you receive greater control over the functionality, a wide field of opportunities for customization, and the ability to provide your users with a unique experience, but it takes more resources and time than integration.
API feature integration demands fewer resources and time but sacrifices customization if you need to cover specific needs. Nevertheless, you get cost-effective solutions to cover some of the needs, improved reliability and scalability, and fast implementation in comparison to developing it from scratch.
Additionally, ask yourself the following questions before choosing:
- what is the purpose of the feature, and what problem does it solve?
- do you need a unique user experience or customization, or will the existing API feature suffice?
- what are your budget, timeline, and available resources?
- what level of control do you need over the functionality?
- what are the compatibility, support, and maintenance issues?
As a result, the decision between API feature integration and feature development from scratch is a real challenge, but some factors help to make the right decision. With proper research and understanding of what you exactly need and expect, you can easily choose between those two and benefit from your decision.