Mobile App Web Services can be defined as self-describing and self-contained programs like software, application, or cloud technology that facilitate standardized web protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) to communicate, and exchange data messaging throughout the Internet. They are XML-centered data exchange systems that use the Internet for communication and interfacing between mobile apps. Web Service programs are a backend development tool, offering a framework that works correctly for mobile apps. Mobile app web services are necessarily software solutions that streamline every aspect of a mobile application. They are a part of the server (API) that manages data for mobile apps. They serve as intermediaries between the mobile application and the databases. They fetch data, arrange it in the desired format and send it at the request of the mobile apps, thus facilitating secure communication.
They include protocols, standards, and requirements for the exchange of web-based information, data, and communications. Web services provide a common platform that allows multiple applications, even the ones built on various programming languages to have the ability to communicate between clients and servers. A mobile app web service supports communication among numerous apps with HTML, XML, WSDL, SOAP, and other open standards. When a client sends a request via XML, the service then responds with an XML response.
Web Services have a simplified infrastructure promise higher ROI for app businesses. While web services are an innovation that provides a platform that allows different applications to interact, there are other advantages of why they can benefit app businesses:
a.) Web Services Promise Business Functionality on The Network
All web services ensure some sort of functionality to client applications or end-users. As this functionality can be invoked over the HTTP protocol, it can also be invoked over the Internet. Because all modern applications are on the Internet, Web services become more useful. They can be anywhere on the Internet and provide the necessary functionality as required.
b.) Web Services Allow Interoperability in Applications
Web services facilitate communication within applications and share data and services among themselves. With web services, all types of applications can talk to each other. Developers do not need to write specific code for different specific applications. Instead, a generic system can easily be understood by all applications
c.) Web Services Use Standardized Protocol
The good thing is that web services use standardized industry protocol for communication. All the four layers of web services including Service Transport, XML Messaging, Service Description, and Service Discovery layers use well-defined protocols in the web services protocol stack.
d.) Slashed Cost of Communication
Web services typically use SOAP over HTTP protocol. Developers can use the existing low-cost Internet for implementing web services, thus cutting the cost of communication. The technology also helps IT pros and web architects streamline connectivity by minimizing development time. Using web services enhances the security and the performance of the mobile application. Apps enjoy secure access to the data, filter it and sort it according to the preference of the business on a server or cloud and then send it to the app than to do all this on mobile phone with much lower Space, Ram, CPU and power (battery).
At Promatics, we are a team of seasoned app development professionals who hold user experience (UX) design as the most critical component in the products that we develop. We plan every detail right from overall customer journey to minute details like the size and colour of user interface elements to bring out the best of the brand to its users. We take pride in building complex app architecture that integrates with a variety of back ends, and we also make the app APIs that provide access to these. However, we often find that young app developers lay little focus on the interface to the data and internal business systems that power the app, resulting in horrible app experiences. This article outlines the best practices for building web services and databases for mobile apps and mobile clients.
1.) Avoid Reinventing RESTful API Architecture
REST((Representational State Transfer) is a popular style for designing mobile app APIs. REST APIs use HTTP requests for performing the actions like GET, POST, PUT, PATCH and DELETE. Their lightweight nature and ease of implementation make them a developer’s favourite. Most mobile app businesses ask their app development partners for resources. However, most often, resources are available in different programming languages and developed by different development teams. Sticking to a popular and generic RESTful architecture style ensures that even new developers can easily maintain the server code if need be. It would also allow them to understand how new services should be built onto it. It becomes easier to set and fulfil the expectations when the two platforms to communicate with each other. It also allows multiple development teams to iterate faster and efficiently, cutting out development and maintenance costs involved.
2.) Pick Explanatory API URL Endpoints
It is in the interest of the client business if the app features clear API URL endpoints. This helps the development team to understand what that resource contains. Have a distinct pattern in URL endpoints to help future developers help understand what that resource contains. The HTTP verb used can describe the action that the parameter will perform for easy organization.
APIs that use the endpoint that is confusing can frustrate future developers, with a new parameter for every possible action.
3.) Let Servers Do the Heavy Lifting
The computing resources on mobile devices are limited. However, the computational power in a back end is comparatively very robust, especially so when used on massive server farms provided by Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. This makes servers more suitable to perform operations, even if they can be done on the client-side. Processing and querying data server-side is much faster as the back end is very close to where your data is stored, even while the mobile application can be anywhere on the planet. The general rule of thumb for building APIs for mobile is to keep all the massive sorting, filtering, number crunching, data aggregating, and consolidation on the server. This leverages the significantly powerful hardware of the server while keeping the client logic simple.
4.) Abide by Standard Security Protocols and User Authentication Rules
Leaving an app unprotected leaves crucial information exposed to the world.
While most routers and public servers through which a request travels on the Internet are trustworthy, some can be troublesome. There is a risk of responses being altered, and sensitive data like credit card numbers or passwords being leaked. Using standard encryption technologies and authentication protocols already tested by the industry avert such troubles and breaches. HTTPS with modern encryption and trusted signed certificates is a staple in the back end for every endpoint, as the data traffic over HTTP is straightforward to manipulate. We recommend that the development, staging, and production environment servers should use the same type of signed certificates. This makes it easy to migrate/test features on each environment. Developers can easily catch security issues upstream before they create problems on the live server and destroy the user experience. Standard protocols for such as OAUTH or OpenID come with a proven track record of excellence.
5.) Do Multiple Backend Environments
The complete lifecycle of an application involves development, testing, and production phases. Each of the steps includes a different version of the software with a different purpose. Sometimes, while a new feature is being developed, another element may be in the testing phase. Thus, it becomes crucial that one aspect of development doesn’t interfere with the other. Best Practices for Developing Great Mobile App Web Services dictate using three environments for the back end, one each for development, staging, and production. Additionally, it is beneficial to have a process to migrate from one to the other, and also to rollback if necessary.
6.) Let Data be The Determinant of The Database
Two leading database technologies can be used while constructing the backend architecture, namely, relational database or document database. Using Relational databases allow for more standardized data, with predefined schemas and advanced capabilities for querying data. However, when data is updated with relational databases, tables are locked until the transaction is completed leading into scaling difficulties for the app business. On the other hand, flexible document databases store data in documents can be customized for complexity and can be upgraded easily. Document databases are easily scalable and distributed globally. Serverless applications prefer cloud document databases that are efficiently managed by cloud providers.
At Promatics, we have come a long way building apps from scratch. No matter the shape and size of the mobile app that we develop, they all communicate with servers. There are hardly any apps today that operate without some sort of Internet connectivity. All apps interact with a backend, web services, or APIs. We develop mobile app APIs internally.
Very often, development teams don’t lay stress on planning good API. We hope this article establishes guidelines on how to build better mobile app web services and shows the business how to save time and effort during development and reduces headache later on in the process.