by Spencer Nguyen • July 28, 2022
An Application Programming Interface (API) is the new go-to for businesses looking to connect with customers, partners, and other stakeholders via digital channels. From e-commerce sites to mobile apps, APIs are used to collect and process data and enable interoperability between web applications. As such, learning how to access APIs has become the primary gateway to data-driven products and the main revenue stream for most businesses. Participating in the API ecosystem is essential for companies that wish to remain relevant. Why? Because today’s digital-first customers expect seamless, interconnected, and personalized experiences across all online platforms. By accessing APIs, you can offer this streamlined experience for your customers. Learn how to access APIs, how they work, and the steps needed to get started today.
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API integration allows one program to request data from another. APIs are the crux of digital transformation. Accessing APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, lets you provide access to other systems via a consolidated platform, as well as:
Plus, there are several types of APIs to choose from. Each type of API varies primarily in the level of access required to use them.
In learning how to access APIs, you’ll find the most common types of APIs include:
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When accessing APIs, a typical web API call takes place between three entities:
Each entity plays a specific role in the process:
In most cases, API calls happen over the Internet. To make the call, the client uses an API endpoint URL. The server receives the request and performs the necessary actions to return the requested data to the client. If the request requires a response with data, the server returns the data to the client. When the client receives the response, it displays the data on a web page, in a mobile app, or in a desktop application. The client/application receives the response and processes the data.
Making calls between systems requires three things:
When you are ready to start working with an API, find the endpoint where you can send your request. This information is in the API docs from the provider. Most APIs require that you send a header to the server with your credentials. After you have sent your credentials, send the request body. The request body is where you write the query or code that you want the API to perform. Most APIs will have a limit on the number of requests that you can send at once. As a result, you may have to wait for the response before you can try sending another request. The API documentation provides information on request limits, if there are any.
Let’s walk through a quick example:
Once you have registered your application with the provider, they will give you an API key. The key is a string of characters that allows a developer to authenticate their access to a software program or website.
Application Programming Interfaces are the core of digital transformation efforts. Accessing APIs is the key to providing the interconnected and personalized experiences that customers expect. Learning how to use APIs, companies can drive the innovation that helps them stand out from the competition. Try DreamFactory for free and start building and accessing APIs today.
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