Integrating and developing your own APIs can help you build better software that is more future-ready.
Are you planning to integrate with any 3rd party APIs in your next software project? Should what you’re building have an API itself? Have you considered these questions as you’ve brainstormed your software system?
What is an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. In layman’s terms, it is a set of methods by which one piece of software can communicate with another.
In practice, developing an API for your business’ data, means enabling other software systems to access your databases in a secure way that you control.
Vice-versa, when you integrate with a 3rd party API, you are consuming their database in a way allowed by the 3rd party, and configured by you.
Why should I care about APIs?
Because many times it is wise to take advantage of what has come before.
For instance, we had a client recently who wants to build and automotive information system… and was planning on scouring the Web for vehicle information and inputting it into a database we build.
What a potentially massive and error-prone process… why bother when companies like Edmunds have already done the work and provide an API from which you can gather all the vehicular data you could dream of?
Best to stand on the shoulders of giants, and focus your efforts on those unique value added propositions your software development company is offering. Invest in developing those features.
APIs can be about function, not only data.
For instance, if you are planning to build an e-commerce site, build one that provides an API to its core functions like “Add to Cart” and “Place Order”. This is one reason why we love Magento.
If your e-commerce site includes an API, then you will be able to extend your customer’s shopping experience into other platforms, like a mobile app, or 3rd party websites.
Another classic example is integrating with the Facebook and Google Authentication API’s to allow you customers a seamless registration experience on your site.
What do I do now?
Talk to your developer and/or study the documentation of the software platform your application is built upon. Double-check that it has ready-made functions to facilitate interacting with external APIs, and is also ready to expose its own data and functions via API should you eventually need that.
The modern-day platforms that Endertech embraces are all API capable… and for reference, our favorite platforms are Magento 2 for E-Commerce, Drupal 8 for Content Management Systems, and Symfony 2 for custom backend software applications.
Hope this has been a helpful primer for you…