Today’s blog post discusses the term “API” or “Application Programming Interface”. We look at the definition of an API and the benefits of using one, the basics of integrating an API and how an API can assist in improving the overall user experience.
What is an API and what are the benefits of using one?
As defined by Intellectual Property experts at ipaustralia.gov.au, “An application programming interface (API) is, in its simplest terms, a piece of software which is designed to fulfil a particular function, provides a clear and fixed contract which other software can use to interact with it, and has a standard address or endpoint where its implementation can be found.”
The benefits of integrating an API as stated in this video include:
- Being able to boost business productivity and save on double handling;
- Allowing custom, automated searches from your own systems;
- Enabling the automation of processes such as correspondence management; and
- Saving your business money.
Integrating an API: The basics
When explaining how an API works, IP Australia uses the example of ordering a pizza online. You go to the website, choose which toppings you would like and send payment for your order.
There are a few key pieces of information that you should be aware of when integrating your website with an external organisation’s, as suggested by API experts at Rapid API:
- Every API has an endpoint or a point of entry between two systems (e.g. jenspizzashop.com.au/order);
- Then there are request methods, which are codes used to communicate an action to an API (e.g. by selecting the toppings you would like);
- And of course, your API key needs to be included in every request so that the API can identify you (e.g. when placing your order you will need to include your name, phone number and payment details).
Improving the user experience
Put simply, APIs help to make the user experience seamless and allow you to improve your offer, and as the team at Rapid API reminds us, “APIs are an integral part of the modern development ecosystem”.
Today, users expect and rely upon the ease and convenience of integrated services that APIs enable, but it is important to note that the process can be quite complex. If you don’t have the expertise but are interested in finding out more, visit a service like ipaustralia.gov.au or RapidAPI to get started today.
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