Good morning dear readers of Tecnogalaxy, today we will talk about the API (Application Programming Interface), what they are and how they can be used.

WHAT PROBLEMS DO API SOLVE?

As software continues to become the medium of business, people who have never had any formal training in programming should have a higher level of software literacy. More and more business data is hosted “in the cloud” by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce, Oracle On Demand, Sage CRM and countless other competitors. Business metrics that once could be hosted in an internal database (or a series of spreadsheets) are sent to these third parties and locked behind web interfaces that are often inconvenient to use. API are built as an attempt to take data from these web interfaces.

WHAT IS AN API?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a very general term that could refer to several things depending on the context.

In general, APIs define the rules that programmers must follow to interact with a programming language, software library, or any other software tool. Lately, however, the term API is more often used to describe a particular type of web interface. These web APIs are a set that allows interaction with a web server (like a Salesforce server), with the most common use case being data recovery. APIs provide mechanisms for CRM customers to access and manipulate data stored by the API provider. The user makes a “request” to a web server, that web server accesses a database and returns it to the applicant in a “response”.

This same request/response cycle occurs when you access web pages in your browser. The main difference between an “API request” and a “web page request” is the type of data provided in the response. A website returns HTML, CSS and JavaScript that work together with your browser to render a web page. Web APIs respond with data in an unprocessed format, not intended to be rendered by a browser in a user experience. JSON and XML are the most common formats used for this raw data and are both flexible text formats for storing data. Almost all programming languages have libraries that can “analyze” JSON and XML.

WHY USE THE API?

The availability of raw data has allowed third-party developers to release apps for phones that display the same data with a personalized presentation. Many other APIs are created with the intention of allowing third-party developers to create interesting applications using business data. Spotify also shows some of these apps on its website, for example, a product manager might ask a software engineer to “Write an API integration that uses the Salesforce API for example and saves the data in our on-site analytics database”.

Some APIs, like Reddit and Spotify, are designed to expand the reach of the organization by making their data available to users and allowing external developers to create products that depend on the company in some way and thus bring customers back. For example, Spotify presented the “artist explorer” in the hope that users will find new artists, create new playlists, and then continue (or start) using Spotify.

Because APIs simply provide data, there are no limits to how a company can continue to use that data. In addition, these programs can be automated to run according to a schedule, reducing the need for someone to navigate the complex steps of manual data export. As companies expand, many find that the initial cost of creating such integration can save employees’ time and sanity, eliminating the need to regularly interact with a complex and sometimes frustrating web interface.

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