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Building a Simple Strapi Custom API
User Experience

Building a Simple Strapi Custom API

16 April 2024 by Sara Wahba

Strapi, a flexible, open-source headless Content Management System (CMS), has gained significant popularity due to its versatility and developer-friendly approach. 

Strapi enables developers to quickly build powerful APIs that can be customized extensively to fit specific needs. 

This guide from Kapsys will explore building a simple Strapi custom API, focusing on creating custom endpoints and securing them with authentication.

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What is Strapi?


Before building a custom API, it's important to understand what Strapi is and how it works. Strapi is a Node.js-based headless CMS designed for developing APIs quickly and efficiently. 

It provides a robust admin panel and rich features out of the box, including API management, role-based access control, and a plugin system, making it an ideal choice for projects requiring a customizable backend solution.

Setting Up Your Strapi Project

strapi api endpoints

Initial Setup

To start building a custom Strapi custom API, you first need to set up a new Strapi project. This involves installing Strapi globally and creating a new project:

  1. Install Strapi using npm:

    npm install strapi@latest -g
  2. Create a new Strapi project:

    strapi new my-project
  3. Navigate to your project directory and run the development server:

    cd my-project
    strapi develop

Once your server is running, you can access the Strapi admin panel at http://localhost:1337/admin, where you can start configuring your API.

Building a Strapi Custom API

strapi custom api endpoin

Creating Custom Content Types

Strapi allows you to define custom content types through its intuitive admin panel. These content types form the basis of your Strapi custom API. Here's how to create a custom content type:

  1. Open the Strapi admin panel.
  2. Go to the "Content-Types Builder" section.
  3. Click on "Create new collection type" and define the fields according to your requirements.

Strapi Custom API Endpoint

Once your content types are defined, Strapi automatically generates RESTful API endpoints for them. However, you might often need more control or additional functionality, leading to the need for Strapi custom API endpoints.

Adding a Custom Endpoint

To add a custom endpoint in Strapi:

  1. Navigate to the api/[your-content-type]/controllers directory in your project.
  2. Create or modify a JavaScript file to define your custom controller method.
  3. Update the routes.json file in the api/[your-content-type]/config directory to include your new endpoint.

Here's an example of adding a custom endpoint to fetch specific data from a content type:

  "method": "GET",
  "path": "/example-endpoint",
  "handler": "example.customMethod"

In your controller, define customMethod to specify the logic for this endpoint.

Securing Your API

Strapi API Authentication

Security is crucial, and Strapi provides built-in support for securing your API using role-based access control and token-based authentication.

Implementing Authentication

To secure your custom endpoints:

  1. Enable the "Users & Permissions" plugin from the Strapi admin panel.
  2. Configure roles and permissions to restrict access to your API.
  3. Use the authentication token when making requests to your secured endpoints.

Example of a secure API call using fetch:

fetch('http://localhost:1337/example-endpoint', {
  headers: {
    'Authorization': 'Bearer YOUR_JWT_TOKEN'

Best Practices for Strapi API Development

Best Practices for Strapi API Development

When developing APIs with Strapi, a flexible and powerful headless CMS, following best practices can significantly enhance the development experience and the final product's performance. 

Here are some recommended best practices for Strapi API development: 

1. Plan Your Content Structure Carefully

Before diving into Strapi, plan the structure of your content. Define what types of content (e.g., articles, user profiles, products) you need and what fields each type should include. 

This helps ensure that your API aligns with your application’s needs and reduces the need for restructuring later, which can be disruptive.

2. Use Roles and Permissions Effectively

Strapi provides a robust role-based access control system that allows you to define who can access what in your API:

  • Minimize Permissions: Give each role the minimum permissions necessary to perform its functions. This principle of least privilege enhances security.
  • Custom Roles: Utilize custom roles for fine-grained access control, especially in larger teams or public APIs.

3. Optimize Queries with Field Limitation

Strapi allows you to limit the fields returned in API responses. This not only reduces the amount of data transferred but also improves performance:

  • Selective Fields: When querying, specify only the necessary fields for that particular operation.
  • Use Projections: Leveraging Strapi’s ability to exclude fields from the results can significantly decrease payload sizes.

4. Implement Efficient Data Fetching Strategies

To further enhance API efficiency:

  • Pagination: Implement pagination to limit the response size, especially for endpoints that can return large datasets.
  • Caching: Use caching mechanisms to store responses of commonly requested data, reducing the load on your server and speeding up response times.

5. Regularly Update Strapi

Keep your Strapi installation up-to-date:

  • Security Patches: Regular updates include security patches that protect your API from vulnerabilities.
  • New Features: Updates can also bring new features and improvements that enhance your API’s functionality and performance.

6. Use Custom Controllers for Complex Logic

While Strapi automatically creates basic CRUD operations for your models, you may need more complex logic:

  • Custom Controllers: For operations that require custom business logic, create custom controllers. This keeps your application flexible and maintainable.
  • Service Layer: Implement a service layer to handle business logic, keeping your controllers slim and focused on routing.

7. Document Your API

Good documentation is crucial for API usability and maintenance:

  • Strapi Documentation Plugin: Use the Strapi documentation plugin to automatically generate and update API documentation.
  • Custom Documentation: For custom endpoints, provide detailed documentation to help other developers understand and use your API effectively.

8. Secure Your API

Security is paramount, especially for APIs that handle sensitive data or are exposed to the public:

  • SSL/TLS: Ensure communications with your API are encrypted using SSL/TLS.
  • Environment Configuration: Use environment variables for sensitive configurations to keep them secure and out of your codebase.
  • Input Validation: Always validate inputs to protect your API from malicious data that could lead to security vulnerabilities.

9. Test Thoroughly

Implement testing strategies to ensure the reliability and stability of your API:

  • Unit Tests: Write unit tests for custom controllers and services to ensure that individual components work correctly.
  • Integration Tests: Use integration tests to verify that different parts of your application work together as expected.

10. Monitor and Log

Implement monitoring and logging to keep track of API performance and potential issues:

  • Logging: Use logging frameworks to log errors and important system events.
  • Monitoring Tools: use monitoring tools to track API usage and performance, helping you identify and resolve issues quickly.


Building a custom Strapi custom API offers developers flexibility and a rich set of features for tailoring their backend to specific requirements.

By following the steps outlined in this guide—from setting up your project and creating custom endpoints to implementing security with Strapi API authentication—you can effectively harness Strapi's power to enhance your applications. 

Whether for a personal project or an enterprise solution, Strapi provides the tools for robust API development.