API Explained: What it is And Why It’s Important
You use APIs every day, sometimes without even realizing it. They are a key component to many applications and allow companies to share and provide access to certain functionality of their applications and services.
Some prominent examples are the use of Google Maps in an application or Facebook’s “invite friends” function. This is all done through the use of APIs, offering tremendous benefits. They are not reserved for tech giants. Creating an API will provide valuable functionality for your systems.
If you’ve worked with APIs, this is all familiar to you. Others might have heard the acronyms API, REST, and JSON thrown around, but it might not be clear what it all is and why it’s important. If you have ever wondered how all this fits together, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
What is an API?
An API is an Application Programming Interface. You never directly interact with it; it’s a system-to-system interface that allows them to exchange data between each other. The API acts essentially as a messenger; it takes requests, delivers them, and returns responses.
Imagine an API as a waiter. A waiter will take your order, bring it to the kitchen, and return with your meal. You can request more items and the waiter will bring each of them back. Your order is the request; the waiter is the API. The kitchen acts as the system handling the request, and your food is the response. The API is a bridge between two systems.
How the API works
When a request is sent, it usually contains one of four basic operations.
- GET – Requests information
- PUT – Updates information
- POST – Creates something new
- DELETE – as it sounds, removes items
JSON requests are sent using a key/value pair format. This is the body and the data contained in the request alongside the basic operation. Humans can read these requests, and it’s in a simple string format that means anyone could understand the information contained within.
Keys are a fixed variable label predefined by the application; the values are unique and essential in exchanging information. APIs work by passing these between applications/software. APIs have a specific set of rules that must be followed to define how applications communicate and pass data to each other.
What about REST
You might have heard of REST; Genius Avenue’s custom API utilizes it. Representational State Transfer (REST) is not a protocol; it’s more of an architecture. Simply put, it helps guide developers with its own set of rules that must be followed when creating the API. Remember the waiter example earlier? Now imagine that REST is the restaurant boss who tells the waiter (API) the rules for serving.
REST has become the general go-to choice for most companies in API development. Industry giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook all use REST for their APIs. REST has been around since 2000; it was first presented in the famous dissertation by Roy Fielding.
The reason behind using REST is it has familiar aspects like SSL and TLS that most developers already know well. It’s language-independent, much like JSON. It can be handled by many languages, and it means developers can use any language that uses HTTP for web requests.
It’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it all down. JSON determines how the request will look, what’s contained in it, and how the data is structured. In contrast, REST determines how the API itself will look by employing a set of rules that developers must follow.
Why the API is important
Our API utilizes REST design principles to open our customer acquisition and management platform to communicate with other programs. It allows us to seamlessly integrate with any software system or content management system. Additionally, as explained earlier, it is language-independent, which will enable our platform to work with any existing solution you currently have in place.
This API framework allows us to provide increased value alongside our current services, allowing you to leverage even more of our unique marketing and technology experience. In addition, we want to further connect our partners with their customers. Our API enhances the user experience, drives sales, increases retention rates, and provides value to your business.
Leveraging our API provides access to our powerful platform directly from your software and applications. The API gives access to seamless interrogations and incorporates technology with our professional industry experience. This will make it even easier to use Genius Avenue’s mobile versatile and unique platform to help transform your business.
An API creates an easy way for your software and applications to access data and provides increased interaction with our software, servers, and any available micro-services. Our Genius Avenue API acts as the messenger between our software; within your own application or software, you can leverage all of our data and functionality.
It’s a powerful addition to our platform and your projects. Have a look next time you’re using a service or application; you will discover how much extra value APIs bring to software. Providing access to specific internal functions and data in a limited way makes it possible to securely share beneficial aspects without jeopardizing either side’s codebase.
There are many more benefits that an API brings to our customers and, in turn to yours. Contact us at Genius Avenue to discuss integrating our exciting new API into your software and web solutions today!
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