Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

Who needs an API?

How to save a year of work by choosing a simple solution.

Who needs an API?

Objective: grant outside access to MySql database

A company wanted to grant a customer limited access to its main database. This way, the customer could autonomously query the data.

Chosen solution: build an API

The technical team decided to build a proprietary API (Application Programming Interface). The customer could then write specific software to query the data through use of the API.

Result: six man-months of work

Building the API must have taken at least six man-months. Eventually, total code size grew to 500Kb, which is huge in my view. After a year, the customer had still not made use of it (and maybe never has).

Alternative solution: create a View

Learning to use a proprietary API takes quite some time. However, this new knowledge can not be used elsewhere, so it is by default not a very profitable investment. However, many IT professionals are already familiar with SQL, the language to access the MySql database.

Therefore, the company could have saved quite some money and time by just offering a so called VIEW on the database, thereby limiting the amount of accessible info in the database. This way the customer could easily query the database via SQL and various MySql tools like phpMyAdmin.

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