API Integration

What is an API

An API or an Application Programming Interface is a bridge programme between 2 different systems. This might be between your application and a payment system such as PayPal, a supplier’s inventory and your provisioning system or your application and a real-time exchange rate interface. In all instances the bridge programme needs to be able to read and write the language of the remote system for the 2 systems to be able to communicate. The API quite often uses XML or more recently JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) as the common interface language. The API is usually written in the language of the system on which it is hosted on and comonly communicates with the host system using a database such as SQL. The API serving the data may reside either on your system or a 3rd party’s with a corresponding client API.

How do I Integrate my Website Using an API?

In the instance that you need to connect your application to an API from a well-known provider such as Twitter or Ebay they will provide comprehensive documentation outlining the exact structure in which the information is sent from and returned to your application. In order for the information within your application to be exchanged via the API it needs to be assembled into the correct structure. This is where custom software that connects to the API is utilized and is something I can build to suit any set of circumstances.

What is Involved?

Working together we would establish which components of your data needs to be sent to the API and which values you wish to retrieve from the system that the API connects to. I would then build a set of routines to match this data to the requirements of the API and the data returned to your own system’s data. Authentication, data validation, logging and documentation are all very important components that need be developed and reviewed as the system is built. Any required hooks which modify your own data, send emails or raise notifications are built at this stage. A “sandbox” website is built where test data can be sent and retrieved and after final testing and approval your API will be made live.

Your Own API

You may have a requirement for your own API if you wish to share your data with other clients or suppliers. This is a similar process to connecting with a proprietary API with the additional work involved in specifying how clients connect, documentation and the building of a test system.


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