RapidAPI Review – A Guide On How To Use It

Posted February 28th, 2020 in Web Development. Tagged: , .

As an all-encompassing marketplace, RapidAPI has become a popular option for developers and vendors alike. So what does it have to offer and how can you harness it effectively to get the most out of its features and benefits?


The basics

On the surface, the concept of RapidAPI is simple; it aims to act as your one-stop-shop for a wide variety of RESTful APIs which can be deployed to tackle a plethora of potential projects.

From text analysis and facial recognition to email marketing and website monitoring, there are literally thousands of different APIs encompassed under its umbrella.

As a platform it also sets out to cater to a number of different user types, including standalone teams as well as entire enterprises. This means that the feature set is scalable and flexible, making it practical for smaller deployments as well as much wider use cases.

Getting started

If you are an app developer on the lookout for an API, you will need to create an account on RapidAPI to start your journey. You can use any email address you like, or make things more convenient by logging in with an existing account on Google, Facebook or Github, depending on your preferences.

Once signed up, you will be able to start narrowing down your options by using the integrated search tool. Enter the keyword that represents the kind of API you need and you should be able to pinpoint multiple options. Click through to the results page and these will be presented in a tiled view, letting you see a snippet-style description of each.

The most relevant and most popular APIs in a given category will appear in the higher ranked positions, and there is plenty of unambiguous information available at this point to make your decision easier. This includes rating of an API based on its popularity with other users of the service, the typical latency that it offers in milliseconds and the average rate of success that it can be expected to achieve, expressed as a percentage.

Hover your cursor over a result and more info will appear before you even have to click through. This will let you know about the payment model that the API in question makes use of, with both paid and free solutions available on the RapidAPI marketplace.

Making connections

After choosing an API, whether it is for managing email marketing (read this post on the RapidAPI blog) or handling other app features, you can then move on to the endpoints page. This is accessed by clicking on the search result that stands out as most suitable for your needs.

This landing page lets you see relevant documentation related to the API, as well as sample snippets of code expressed in several mainstream programming languages for ease of use by a wide audience. You will also be able to see the most common endpoints for the API, with a search bar letting you find something specific within this if you wish.

Before you decide whether or not to connect with an API, you can also use the navigation bar at the top of the page to scan through the other pertinent pieces of information that will inform your choice. Pricing is perhaps the most important of these, as this is a tab that includes details of how much you will need to pay to subscribe, if indeed the vendor has attached any kind of payment requirement.

Those APIs which do have a subscription attached are all payable on a monthly basis at a flat rate. You can also see if there are any fees applicable if you breach the quota limit of a specific plan, ensuring that there is no ambiguity and no nasty surprises around the corner.

The good news is that plenty of vendors deliberately offer their base level subscription free of charge, allowing developers to get a taste of what it has to offer without putting any cash on the line. Such ‘free’ plans will still have fees for exceeding a set quota, so this is worth keeping in mind to avoid upset. It is the responsibility of the user to adhere to these limits.

Taking an API for a spin

Following your thorough scrutiny of the pricing plans available and your choice to commit to one, you can now carry out a test of its functionality from within the RapidAPI dashboard itself. This is one of the many conveniences it offers over equivalent platforms.

Choose from the available endpoints, add the input parameters you require and hit the ‘Test Endpoint’ button to see the response that the API delivers to the given request. The test result appears in the place as the code snippet.

Once the test is complete and the results are to your liking, you can start the process of linking the API to the app project that you are working on. This can be carried out in the programming language you are using and you can copy and paste the code snippet with ease thanks to the simple way that RapidAPI is organised.

RapidAPI - screenshot

Assessing performance

When you have connected an API from RapidAPI’s marketplace with your app, you will also want to see how smoothly everything is running and establish if there are any optimisations worth making.

The site offers a comprehensive developer dashboard for precisely this purpose, opening up a world of analytics while also giving you the ability to alter other settings and keep an eye on billing in real time.

You can add several APIs and multiple apps to the same RapidAPI account, making it straightforward to manage everything without needing to constantly switch between accounts.

The analytics solution has a practical interface which presents data in graphs that make it very digestible. You can check up on the number of requests that are being made through the API, the proportion of errors which are being produced and the latency.

These graphs are viewable across different time frames, which is useful if there is a particular period of activity that you want to focus on.

Other features, add-ons & support

There are myriad features offered within the RapidAPI ecosystem, including a selection of SKDs that help with API integration and are compatible with ever API that is included as part of the marketplace at the moment.

Furthermore there are comprehensive tools designed for managing teams of users so that collaboration on app projects is possible, as well as a streamlined option for vendors who want to sell their own API creations to developers through RapidAPI. This includes the ability to manage pricing, transfer API ownership, take charge of things like security and deal with finance-related issues.

Once you have got to grips with the basics of using this service, you can get more assistance direct from the support team via email or through the official Facebook page, if social media is more your speed.

In summary, RapidAPI is an appealing prospect for many users, as it unifies many tools under one browser-based system and still manages to deliver excellent access to a large, ever-growing library of APIs. With the help of this platform it is possible to create compelling, competitive apps for almost any purpose, whether you are a solo developer or part of a large team.

About the Author

Dean McAllister

Dean McAllister is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Computer Science at the University of Guelph. He likes testing out new software and applications from time to time and is currently developing a cybersecurity software.

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