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Microhirings vs API Comparison

Microservices vs API Comparison

Estimated read time: 6 minutes
Faiza Khalid

Faiza Khalid

CIS engineerDeveloperTech Writer

Are you interested in microservices vs API comparison? You have come to the right place.

Microservices and API software architectures are quite popular with the increasing demand for secure and scalable software development with faster time to market. 4 out of 5 businesses today use microservices architecture, but how do microservices differ from APIs?

In this article, we compare microservices vs API to help you decide which approach is suitable for your next software project.

Microservices

A microservice is a complete software architecture or model that divides an application into smaller components or services. The components of a microservice architecture include business logic, APIs, a data access layer, and a database. There are two types of microservices, stateful and stateless.

Each service with a microservice model acts as a part of a larger software system. For example, an online shopping software application based on a microservices architecture has an individual service for user account management, inventory management, payment gateway, etc.

Each service has one end goal that determines the scope of the service. A microservice-based application may have fewer sub-services for a small software application or may rely on a number of services in the case of a big enterprise application.

The attributes of a microservice would help you further understand the architecture.

Microservices Attributes

Microservices architecture is used against the monolithic architecture and offers solutions to issues posed by the monolithic application where every software feature is handled by the same program as compared to separate self-contained services. Microservices offer the following attributes:

Simplicity

Microservice architecture makes development simpler for software developers as they do not have to understand the complete software application.

Security

Microservices enhance software security. Even if one service is compromised, the rest of the software application is secure.

Robustness

As every service is separate, the breakdown of one service does not affect the other software components.

Flexibility

Developers can adopt new approaches, frameworks, etc., to design and develop a new service without having any impact on other services.

Maintenance

Microservice-based application is easier to update and maintain. Frequent small updates can be rolled out instead of one major software update that is time and cost-consuming.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

An infographic of how Twitter API functions

If you‘re a developer reading this article, then you‘re no doubt familiar with Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. APIs can take many forms, sometimes in the form of a DLL or they can even be exposed via a web service over a protocol such as REST.

In the software development landscape, third-party software vendors‘ business models are built on building and shipping APIs that give developers more widgets in their toolbox which can boost productivity and ultimately improve the delivery time of software projects.

Need to add PDF generation functionality to your application? No problem, just buy a software license from a company such as Aspose and add the DLL reference to your project. 

The DLL will give you access to an API, along with developer-friendly instructions that show you which parameters to set for you to produce a PDF.

In an application programming interface, most of the “heavy lifting” has been done for you, you can think of an API as a black box that contains one or many functions that accept any number of defined inputs that encapsulate the required functionality to produce a given output.

In recent years, we‘ve also seen a culture shift in businesses and organizations, especially in the public sector, there have been recent drivers to open access to data service, often through public APIs which are available online.

Services built on APIs that are available online tend to abandon more formal SOAP-based protocols in favor of a RESTful approach. 

One example of this can be found in the Twitter web API, the social media giant has multiple REST endpoint that allows developers to easily write code that consumes Twitter services and data.

These sorts of APIs are making “machine-to-machine” communication easier and resulting in innovative solutions that let developers focus on the business problem they‘re trying to solve, rather than having to develop security mechanisms and low-level messaging protocols.

API – Attributes

APIs aren‘t a new approach to software development; independent software vendors have shipped 3rd party DLLs that can be used by developers for years. 

Building services that can be accessed as APIs over a network, however, is a different thing altogether and has been growing in popularity, some might say we‘re in the middle of an API economy!

REST/JSON

APIs are often associated with REST/JSON (JavaScript object notation) whereas SOA typically uses XML and SOAP. One of the main drivers of the APIs is to give 3rd party developers and businesses easy access to services in an open fashion.

Well documented

Publicly available APIs such as the Facebook or Twitter API are well documented.  As a developer, it’s simple enough to understand API service endpoints, the parameters you need to supply, and the JSON that each service will return.

Integration

Publicly available web APIs can be integrated with your existing SOA (service-oriented architecture), and MSA (microservices architecture) and act as a gateway to your services that sit behind your corporate firewall which may contain a combination of SOA services or MSA services. 

Adopting this strategy can pave the way for free and premium endpoints and creates commercial opportunities.

Microservices vs API

Finally, let’s review the differences between microservices vs API.

As we have explained earlier, an API is a contract. A client app can use it to consume a service, and the API gateways present an easy-to-use way for this. If you are developing an API for internal use, then it will provide a consistent framework for the front end to access the backend.

On the other hand, microservices architecture is an architectural pattern. It involves multiple small microservices that are independent of each other. As we have explained before, you should use APIs for implementing the microservices architecture effectively.

Modern application developers document their APIs well, and APIs are more open and self-contained. As a result, they are suitable for both internal and external use cases.

On the other hand, you typically consider service-oriented architecture for internal use cases. There are exceptions though where SOA is used in external use cases.

So this is it for microservices vs APIs comparison. If you plan to build a software application, you should know about various software application architectures to select the best option. You would require senior software developers that have experience working with different software architectures.

DevTeamSpace can help you here via its field-expert software developers’ community. All our developers are vetted for their software development skills and follow an AI-powered agile development process.

You can send us your initial software project specifications via this form, and one of our account managers will get in touch with you to discuss in detail how we can help you build next-level mobile and web applications.

FAQs on Microservices bs API

How are microservices and APIs related?

The microservices approach breaks down entire application functionality into modular components whereas an API is a part of a software application that communicates with other applications.

How many APIs can a microservice have?

Microservices can have one or more APIs. Multiple APIs enhance the functionality of a microservice as smaller services.

Are APIs a part of a microservice?

Yes, an API is a component of a microservice which is a complete application architecture. A microservice can have multiple API services.


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