In the same way that a website provides an interface for humans to interact with your organisation, an API provides an interface for your organisation's web or mobile application to interact with other, related systems either internally or externally via the world wide web.
We offer our clients some very simple advice: don't acquire or run web applications that have no means of communication or integration with other, related but distinct systems.
API – Application Programming Interface – are becoming more and more commonplace today, and the terminology is commonly heard in relation to mobile apps and cloud applications.
An API allows your web application to integrate smoothly with other internal, back office applications or with third party applications, without exposing the entire codebase to the world.
There are many protocols, but today the most common would be SOAP and REST, the latter being commonly used to allow mobile applications to offer functionality powered by Cloud based web applications.
Examples would be data sychronisation between information gathered and stored in the cloud and that held on local database systems, booking engines which search multiple inventory sources in the background in real time via third party API, or the almost ubiquitous online payment processing – where authorisation happens on a remote server, but in the background, so the user never leaves your app or website.
API's provided by third parties can enable you to offer a vast array of online services to your customers which may otherwise be beyond your reach - the likes of Amazon, Google Maps and many others offer a huge library of services to developers and to online businesses - from currency conversion to weather reports.
Creating a managed, throttled API for your web or cloud application will immediately open up opportunities for your business.
Suddenly your clients are happy because the fantastic services and information your application provides them can be accessed by other systems in their infrastructure, so they are leveraging those investments by investing in yours.
Your finance guys are happy because you can deliver their system the information it needs in real time in an automated way, so no doubling up on laborious data entry tasks.
The sales guys are happy because the CRM is being continually updated in real time with leads fed via API from your web application's enquiry forms.
Business management is happy because their reporting system is continually updated with information from all key areas of the business and the key performance indicators are up to date.
Integrations can be tricky, with many pitfalls, but at Communicraft we have been enthusiastically wading into tricky integrations since 2001, trusting our experience will warn us where danger lies and point us in the direction of success.
Read about how Communicraft can assist with your API development or integration requirements here.
Ask us today about how Communicraft can open your web application up to new opportunities via API – whether offering your functionality to the world or incorporating a world of functionality in to yours.