Chances are, you’ve probably heard about API platform or API integration, but you just haven’t understood what both terms mean. We’ve all been there, searching online ‘What’s API’, and hoping that the explanation doesn’t include endless information technology jargon. In fact, the matter is far simpler than you believe.
We use APIs on a daily basis online. API (Application Programming Interface) is an outlined interface through which a software app communicates with another one. Put differently, it’s a set of contracts that enable multiple software systems to share data between them.
Because of APIs, devices and programs can communicate securely, without knowing the internals of one another. Apart from that, APIs make the lives of developers a lot easier, operating like ready-made cinder blocks for building software.
You can think of the API as a mailman that runs between the house and the postal office. But rather than delivering mail, the mailman carries requests to a third-party server and returns with a sack full of data. Despite the fact that they are invisible to users, APIs flawlessly connect applications, systems and devices.
Continue reading to understand more about APIs and how you can utilize them in your business.
If your business owns a website, you’re probably using certain analytics to estimate its performance. It helps you to measure user conversions and website traffic. And in order for it to work adequately, it must be integrated into your website. And naturally, you’ll be using APIs to achieve that.
Take the IP API, for example. It can help you target new audiences online and increase your brand awareness at the same time. The IP location information through API will help you catch fish in the larger pond. By using it you will be able to get your hands on customers that live across the globe. It will give you the amazing opportunity to connect with them and turn into a globally recognized brand.
Project Management Tools
When working in a company with a lot of employees, team management tools are a necessity. Tools like JIRA, Trello, Microsoft Teams – most probably you’re using one of them. Project management tools are good for communication between colleagues, however, what’s really important it’s the data-exchange functionality they have.
It means you can attach files easily from your computer or application and share it with other users. You can also convert data from the project management tool into different programs like MS Excel for example.
All that data-exchanging between different services happens via API. So, each time you link some external information into the project management tool, you’re in fact using APIs. They carry the information from your software application to another so that your coworkers are able to see it immediately.
Online Payment Systems
If your business requires digital payments and money transfers, you are obviously using APIs. For eCommerce, APIs are a powerful tool because they guarantee the security of online payments. A simple and fast way to receive payment online is by using the payment gateways’ APIs. Stripe, PayPal, Skrill – any of these APIs can be integrated with your own website.
Another way to utilize APIs is by acquiring information from other services. For instance, if your business includes searching for the best offers online, such as Expedia or KAYAK, you have to use APIs. Actually, third-party servers obtain a request via API, respond with whatever the user searches for, and afterward the data displays on your website.
You can also have a small search box that will help users locate the right content on your website easier. Odds are the internal search engine you use is in fact an integrated custom-built website search API. Those ones are generally provided by Bing, Google, or other search engines that allow API integration.
Nowadays, a lot of businesses utilize Social APIs, and most probably yours as well. Social APIs have become a very strong marketing tool. Their most frequent use is content delivery via different social networks. That’s done by adding share buttons below every content. The sharing ability is a result of using an API.
Other than that, if you have a sign-up option on your website, you may use instant login via social media accounts like Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. It will not only make the sign-up faster but also will help to gather useful market data. Once users log in via their social media accounts, you will receive the demographic data regarding the user base.
APIs are a crucial element in modern program development, however, when they are poorly managed, security considerations might be applied irregularly or not at all. API management platform offers an overall plan to implement security measures while still permitting individual developers or teams to work relatively independently.
Strong API security abilities should involve authentication mechanisms for controlling who can access APIs, tools for enforcing traffic quotas or different policies, and intelligent algorithms to fight bots.
Now you understand that API is what makes the data exchange and connectivity feasible. Everyone uses it for accessing the data from a third-party server because it allows software applications to share information between each other. Although employees may not be aware they interact with APIs, they are extremely useful for common business activities.