June 22, 2022 - Read 5 -10 min
In a broad context, for developers APIs are sets of pieces of software that deliver certain functionalities to the applications where they are implemented, but for the end user they turn out to be extremely useful tools capable of raising their interactive experience to the highest degree of satisfaction, and this is undoubtedly the major business objective implicit in any digital initiative.
On a practical level, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) have two very precise objectives, the first is to reduce time and effort in the work of software developers and the second, to save resources in companies by allowing them to integrate external services within their own digital platforms to simplify the interaction of their customers.
Although APIs are not visible to these end users, they are visible to developers because they are powerful and extremely versatile IT construction tools, so let's take a closer look at their concept.
For clients and/or users APIs represent the ease of acquiring different services in a natural way through others. To give an example, this is how we have reached the convenience of being able to access our Netflix account through our Google or Facebook user profiles, as well as being able to buy products on eBay and Amazon paying with our bank card thanks to PayPal or PayU.
In technical terms, an API is the grouping of functions and protocols that establish the rules or parameters that allow the integration of products and services with others. In practical terms, APIs are the software pieces that enable multidirectional communication between applications of different natures. Moreover, their use is so widespread that today there are APIs for proprietary use by companies and/or partners or public APIs with and without usage limitations, among others. This is how programmers can interconnect specific third-party services such as payment systems or registration systems with their applications without having to create them themselves.
To better abstract the API concept and its applicability, let's suppose we are planning a trip, specifically at the moment of booking flight tickets, let's remember that our grandparents and parents used to do this in person or by phone, but now there are better ways to do it and all of them are virtual.
Then, choosing any means of reservation we will be able to see the free seats and those already taken, and this information must be universal or else the potential chaos would collapse all the channels of attention, even the face-to-face ones. Now, taking into account that there are face-to-face, telephone and digital means to buy our flight tickets, how do offices, travel agencies, virtual advisors and booking applications manage to have the same information about the available offer in real time?
If you thought of an API then we have managed to make clear the concept and its determining advantage when doing business, since the sales channels have become heterogeneous in order to reach all customers, that is why they cannot run the same software. What is possible is to feed from the same information through the implementation of a standardized API able to nurture and be nurtured from each platform or point of sale, thus democratizing the supply of products and services for any type of customer while increasing the profitability and profits of companies.
Moving on to a more technical and detailed explanation of APIs, there are four main types of APIs:
Open APIs Also known as public APIs, these have a relatively low level of restrictions so that most of their systems are completely transparent allowing a quick implementation in all companies that need to improve communication with users and third parties.
Partner APIs This type of API is very similar to open APIs in terms of its ability to establish communication between companies and their partners and external users, the difference is that in this type of API a layer of security is added by creating individual credentials (KEYS) for registration and access of participants.
Internal APIs These types of APIs are also known as private APIs because they exist solely to facilitate activities such as information exchange between departments that optimize business operations. Like partner APIs they also grant access via keys but add another layer of security by checking the identity of users.
Composite APIs This type of API integrates within itself other data or service APIs to provide an all-in-one solution (microservices) that through the synchronous execution of a sequence of tasks boosts the performance of execution processes and the performance of service channels.
API protocols (Web Service APIs). Fundamentally, a Web Service is an API created exclusively to establish a multidirectional web communication channel. It is therefore said that "all Web Services are APIs but not all APIs are Web Services ". Here are the most common types:
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). This Web Service API uses XML as a predefined format for data transfer and is therefore quite robust and capable of solving any communication need.
REST (Representational State Transfer) Because this protocol is a set of structural rules that define how data should be created, read, updated and deleted it is very useful when interactions are simple or resources are limited.
XML-RPC This protocol uses a specific XML format to transfer information which makes it quite simple and practical as it requires reduced bandwidth for communication.
JSON-RPC Very similar to XML-RPC this standard is quite simple and practical, using JSON text format instead of XML to achieve a much lighter and faster data transfer.
This is how APIs manage to enrich the user experience through better service access structures as well as the creation of new functionalities that solve problems that remain unknown until now. This is the main reason why leading companies in the industry continue to design and implement APIs as a key element of innovation both for their customers and for their new business avenues.
Basically, APIs are able to optimize many processes because they can generate the triggering or deployment of sets of actions one after the other. To summarize, let's review in which areas the implementation of an API has managed to improve the cadence and results of certain processes:
Likewise, APIs can be implemented anywhere where opportunity arises, it is known that several of the benefits they provide when integrating software are improvements in:
Data volume: By making processes independent, only the strictly necessary information is used.
Global security: APIs atomize the systems by making their use independent, which allows maintaining the security of the entire platform.
Agility in systems and applications: By avoiding the activation of all system processes in certain interactions, everything is faster.
Cost reduction: Both implementation and maintenance costs.
Process automation: Savings in effort, time and money within DevOps teams.
Innovation: APIs restructure and organize the internal systems of companies to generate new ways of offering services or directly offer new services.
Outside the list, another benefit of APIs is that their use is not exclusively limited to large companies; they can bring innovation to any business that seeks to create accessible solutions for its customers. In addition, in the case of developers, they allow easy integration for their use, resulting in the gain of new competitive advantages according to their functionalities.
In general, the integration of a third-party API is a fairly simple and quick task depending on the documentation provided by its own developers. This means that the first step for the correct implementation of certain APIs is to judiciously review such material.
In general, the integration of a third-party API is a fairly simple and quick task depending on the documentation provided by its own developers. That means that the first step to the correct implementation of certain APIs is to judiciously review such material.
But, if your business needs an innovative tailor-made solution, which is able to integrate certain IT processes for your customers, modernize internal or external communication channels or improve the delivery of certain products and services, we have the experience and capacity to help you in the successful implementation of an API that links the necessary systems to innovate in your business sector.
We invite you to know all our services and why not to take a technology consulting to analyze and evaluate the key aspects that can improve your level of competitiveness through an API. Visit now Our Services