Why Fortune 500 companies are re-building their API integrations

Russell Crowe as John Nash in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’

These days, companies are overflowing in data and tolerating ancient API-integrations. Across all industries.

Buried in that data are trends that point to customer insights, inefficiencies and synergy opportunities that could provide a competitive edge to a company. Or, just help a company catch back up to its competitive peers.

But how to best harness this data? Not everyone is like the genius John Nash in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ that can look at raw data and see the hidden, correlated magic. After all, John Nash was an 8 sigma event.

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NoSQL vs SQL: Understand the Differences and Make the Best Choice

nosql vs sql
NoSQL vs SQL
The tough choice of NoSQL vs SQL. An important decision for any business that may pay the price for down the road if you don’t plan accordingly. Here, we break down the important distinctions and discuss NoSQL vs SQL for you to make an informed decision.

What is NoSQL

NoSQL or Not Only SQL is an alternative to relational databases such as MySQL, Postgres, and SQL Server. Typically NoSQL databases are popular for working with large sets of data as data is stored in the form of flat collections so reading or writing operations is much faster. There is also less management for NoSQL databases as they support automatic repair, data distribution, and simpler data models. MongoDB, Couchbase, and Cassandra are popular NoSQL databases, but what do their queries look like? If NoSQL is all about leaving SQL behind, then what happens? These are fair questions, for example MongoDB uses its own syntax that kind of resembles JavaScript. Let’s take a look:
db.inventory.find( { status: "D" } )
In the above query the example selects from the inventory collection all documents where the status equals “D”. It is not too difficult to follow, but does feel a little foreign if you are used to SQL.

What is SQL

SQL or Structured Query Language is a language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system. Some examples of popular SQL databases are Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Postgres. One of many reasons for its popularity is how portable it is. SQL can be used in the program in PCs, servers, laptops, and even some of the mobile phones. Unlike NoSQL databases, SQL databases have an established, well defined standard. The language is also very straightforward, let’s take a look at it:
SELECT * FROM inventory WHERE status = "D"
In the above query the example selects from the inventory collection all documents where the status equals “D”. Sound familiar? That is because it is doing the same thing the MongoDB query is doing.

Which is Better?

This all depends on what your goals are. SQL databases tend to be beneficial for companies that have a clear business structure and do not plan on making many changes to their database structure. If your company has rapid growth or no clear schema definitions then a NoSQL database is the right choice for you. If you’re uncertain about which type of database is best for your business, you can schedule a consultation with one of our experts today.

What if you want to use a SQL database but not learn SQL or the opposite, use a NoSQL database without learning how to handle the data? That is where DreamFactory comes into play, interact with your data without having to learn SQL. In minutes generate an API from nearly any datasource that is fully documented and secure without code. Contact an expert today to learn how to cut development cost and time in half.

Monitoring APIs with Grafana

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DreamFactory, Prometheus, Docker, and Grafana
DreamFactory, Prometheus, Docker, and Grafana

Now that we have explored monitoring apis with Prometheus, lets take a look at monitoring our APIs with Grafana. You may have noticed from the previous blog that Prometheus is awesome, but takes some time to fully flesh out and their dashboards aren’t the best. Good thing Grafana specializes in data visualization. We will not even have to configure all our Prometheus queries, so let’s get started.

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Creating a Microsoft SQL Server API in Less Than 5 minutes with DreamFactory

DreamFactory and Microsoft SQL Server
DreamFactory and Microsoft SQL Server

Do you have a ton of data sources and do not know how to expose them? Do you know you need a Microsoft SQL Server API but don’t know where to begin to build it? Look no further, DreamFactory can take any database and generate a fully documented and secure REST API faster than making a sandwich. All you need is your database credentials and DreamFactory will handle the rest, instantly generating Swagger documentation and securing your API by way of API keys. Follow along with the blog or our video below!

Installing DreamFactory

In order to get started you must install DreamFactory, which is Open Source and gives you the ability to try out a numerous amount of popular databases. To spin up your own hosted environment for free click here.

Generating the SQL Server API

Now the fun part. Once you have DreamFactory up and running you will be on the Admin panel. From there you will navigate to the Services tab to connect your database for your API. For example I have selected a Microsoft SQL Server database but it is nearly identical for any database you will be connecting to. Connecting your database typically only requires filling out these 5 fields as shown below.

SQL Server API

Upon saving there will be a success window pop-up saying “Service saved successfully”. What it doesn’t tell you is all the magic it just did behind the scenes. In just that short amount of time, it generated your REST API. So now if you navigate to the API Docs tab you can see your new documentation for the API and actually interact with it via the “Try it out” button.

SQL Server API

Securing and Interacting with the API

I can end it here now that you have generated your API, but where is the fun in that? Now let’s actually see the API in action! First things first, let’s generate an API key to be paired with the API for security purposes. DreamFactory does not allow access to the API without being authenticated. Let’s navigate to the Roles tab and create a Role for our API. This Role with correspond with the API key so different users can have different privileges based off different keys.

SQL Server API

For my Role I have pointed it to the SQL Server Service we just created and told it to only allow GET calls on the endpoints. This will ensure anyone using this API key will not be able to, for example delete data from the database. We must now link this Role to an API key. If we now go to the Apps tab we can create a new API key with the corresponding Role.

SQL Server API

Once we hit save we are able to see the API key generated for our use. Just to show how it works I will be using Insomnia, a popular HTTP service, to call our DreamFactory API. I will call the customers table, passing the API key in the headers for authentication.

SQL Server API

Conclusion

As you can see I have access to our new API and how much time did that take? Way less time than building this API yourself! If you would like to find out exactly how much time and money DreamFactory can save you, check out our API calculator. Otherwise what are you waiting for? Go build your next application using DreamFactory already!

If you have any questions about the platform, or just APIs in general, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us.

API Calculator: Understanding the costs behind building an API-based application

Do you want to save money, deploy projects faster, and spend more time on developing application experiences that enthrall users? Then it’s practically a certainty APIs will play a critical role in your software development process. Accordingly, you’ll want to obtain a fairly accurate understanding of the cost and time required to building an API. But it’s important to understand that there’s much more to an API than just coding an interface to some data source such as a database. Whether you are planning on hiring a contractor or assign a new project to your team, an API calculator can help you understand the time and cost required to develop a mission-critical part of your next project. Continue reading “API Calculator: Understanding the costs behind building an API-based application”

What if Chuck Norris Wanted to Create a Service That Automated APIs?

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Chuck Norris Joke Enthusiasts Trust DreamFactory to Automate  APIs

Thanks to amusing Chuck Norris API database site The Internet Chuck Norris Database, you can have some fun and keep the Chuck Norris jokes flowing.  With the help of DreamFactory and our API automation tools, you will always have life-changing insights making those around you just a bit more intelligent, good looking and successful.  Who doesn’t need to understand such nuggets as:

Contrary to popular belief, the Titanic didn’t hit an iceberg. The ship was off course and ran into Chuck Norris while he was doing the backstroke across the Atlantic.

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The Reusable REST API Platform Strategy

The engineering team at DreamFactory designed and built some of the very first applications that use web services. Over the years, we learned many lessons trying to create the perfect mobile backend for these applications. This article lays out some of the problems companies encounter when they build custom REST APIs from scratch, and after that, we look at some of the architectural advantages and technical characteristics of a reusable REST API platform. The REST API Complexity Problem When a company decides to start a new mobile project, the IT group first defines the business requirements, and then starts writing the actual software. Usually there is a client-side team that designs the application and a server-side team that builds the backend infrastructure. These two teams must work together to develop a REST API that connects the backend data sources to the client application. One of the most time-consuming and expensive aspects of the development process is the “interface negotiation” that occurs between these two groups. With the acceptance of BYOD and general proliferation of mobile devices, the modern enterprise may need hundreds or even thousands of mobile applications. New mobile projects typically have new requirements that were not anticipated by the existing services. You could go back and try to expand the scope of the old services, but they are already in production, and so in many situations a new REST API is created for each new project. And so the API building process continues over time with various developers, consultants, and contractors. The REST APIs are often written with different tools and developer frameworks. They run on different servers or in the cloud. They are tied to different databases and file storage systems. Each new service has different security mechanisms, credential strategies, user management systems, and API parameter names, as this diagram illustrates. Continue reading “The Reusable REST API Platform Strategy”

DreamFactory hackathon with Verizon Cloud and Mapquest

DreamFactory partnered with Verizon and Mapquest to host an all day hackathon at the beautiful Verizon campus in Dallas,Texas filled with fun, food, drinks and prizes. The September hackathon hosted 76 developers coming from different career, education and programming backgrounds which fueled creativity, collaboration and ultimately the innovation that followed. Continue reading “DreamFactory hackathon with Verizon Cloud and Mapquest”

PHP 7 doubles performance for DreamFactory

speed-increase.png DreamFactory is a high performance request/response engine for REST API Services. You can hook up any SQL or NoSQL database and instantly get a comprehensive REST API for that data source. A big part of our platform is the support for JSON Web Tokens. JWT is an open standard for representing session information that is transferred between the client and server. JWT allows DreamFactory to run in a completely stateless manner, which makes the platform very easy to scale vertically with additional server capabilities or horizontally with multiple instances between a load balancer. Continue reading “PHP 7 doubles performance for DreamFactory”

How to integrate the Twilio API with DreamFactory to enable SMS for your app

twilio.png Twilio has a superb API for integrating SMS messages into your applications. It’s easy to add Twilio as a remote HTTP service to any application you’re building with DreamFactory. DreamFactory lets you securely store your Twilio authentication credentials, call the Twilio API directly from a DreamFactory session, and easily add role-based access control to any Twilio API endpoint. This brief tutorial shows you how to add Twilio to DreamFactory in five minutes.

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