Frequently Asked Questions
What is an API?
An application programming interface (API) defines how two or more technologies communicate with one another.
How does an API work?
APIs sit in the middle of the application and the server. The user asks the application to perform a task and the application uses the API to meet the demand. The API, in turn, must send a call to the server in order to make a formal request.
What are APIs used for?
There are two principal use cases for APIs: internally and externally. For private or internal APIs, software development teams may use APIs for the operations that happen within their organization. External or open APIs are publicly accessible.
While API integrations don’t get as much hype as a programming language or software framework might, they are just as important to the software development process.
So what is API integration? Well, when it comes to software and technology, it’s best to go into detail.
What Is API Integration?
First things first, what is an API? An API is an application programming interface. APIs are a set of protocols that enable different software systems to connect and share data.
For example, ask Siri or Google Assistant to play a song right now on your phone. There’s a good chance that digital voice is connected through an API to a music program on your phone that’s willing to fetch the song you asked for.
This operation takes place when Siri or Google Assistant’s API interacts with the API of your music program. In this way, APIs work as software intermediaries between two or more technologies.
‘API integration’ is an explicit means of describing this connection. And as you can see, this can be a very critical part of any technical endeavor.
Software hardly exists in a vacuum, so these transactions that occur across one technology to the other more or less make these technologies useful in the first place.
How Do API Integrations Work?
The simplest way to explain APIs is that while the user interface is meant for the user, a human being, APIs are made for the entirety of the application or the computer.
To elaborate, the human accesses the application. In web applications of websites, the API lies between the application and the server and responds to the human user accessing the application after they make a certain request.
Using the predefined protocols APIs are by definition given, the API will ask the server to fulfill the user’s request. To put it frankly, APIs are the middlemen of software.
They’re the waiter collecting your orders and serving them up to the kitchen, making sure you get your food fresh and hot!
Why Are API Integrations Important?
API integrations give modern businesses the tools they need to be successful. Alright, maybe you’re not the kid behind Siri or Google Assistant, so knowing the ins and outs of API integration is not of use to you in that regard.
But if you’re managing a tech startup or any other company for that matter, you’ll probably run into API integrations one way or the other.
HubSpot, for instance, is a popular content optimization system (COS) combining the powers of a content management system (CMS) and a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
Though HubSpot is frequently compared to WordPress, HubSpot objectively offers more tooling for you to take your business to the next level, via marketing and beyond. The many integrations HubSpot provides only multiply this effect.
Those who still want the CRM of HubSpot, for one, but are keen on using WordPress, deploy API integrations to embed HubSpot into their WordPress CMS.
On the other hand, those who take to HubSpot CMS, sometimes use API integrations so they can still utilize Salesforce, a similarly popular CRM.
Of course, the utility of API integrations goes far past HubSpot. This is just one example.
If you want to build an application of any kind, mobile or web, APIs will play a crucial role. Representational state transfer (REST) APIs, particularly, are integral for using networks.
5 Examples of API Integration Use Cases
For some more detail on how API integration can help your business, read just below. The following examples provide the most common API integration use cases.
1. Connect Cloud Apps
Cloud apps are software applications where much of the back-end technology, like the logic and data is accessed online through the internet rather than through a local machine.
Considering that Amazon Web Services (AWS) — a cloud platform that provides servers, storage, networking, and more — controls over a third of the market, you’re probably more familiar with cloud apps than you think. Google Docs is a prime example of a cloud app.
API integrations are the standard for connecting cloud apps these days. Circling back to Google Docs, this is how one would consolidate their documentation with apps like Google Sheets, Slack, Discord, GitHub, and dozens of other cloud applications.
2. Creation of Custom APIs
Naturally, using pre-written APIs doesn’t always make ends meet. Sometimes only custom software can be efficient and flexible enough to work for your project. When this is the case, you have the option of developing a custom API.
3. Ease the Development of Apps
To some extent, APIs are a method of standardization. Instead of writing and rewriting code to facilitate this type of integration, APIs serve as outlines to streamline the same process.
At the heart of many popular apps are pre-written APIs holding everything together. API integration is a quick and easy way to draw several different functionalities into one high-functioning and performative app.
4. Strategic Team Movement
Software as a service (SaaS) companies can create APIs for you when building APIs from scratch isn’t exactly lucrative. More often than not, this is a common occurrence.
Besides speeding up development, this specific mode of API integration can boost productivity for your team. Accelerating the software development process is key to successful app releases.
5. Multiple Services Management
From a management perspective, using APIs is simply easier. Tracking how multiple services work and are integrated with other services can be quite a task.
A task of this kind may require a plethora of individuals picked from numerous IT departments or software development teams.
APIs are like “lego blocks”, according to Trio co-founder Alex Kugell. And it’s a lot easier to keep track of the pieces you put together than to find the ones that are strewn across one end of your hypothetical playroom to the other.
Learn more: How Do APIs Help Marketing Operations?
How To Build API Integrations
Building an API integration is much like developing a regular old software application. It requires dedication and skill. There are four essential steps that you should account for.
Any endeavor you’ve undertaken whole-heartedly likely involved some research. APIs are no different. You need to get a fundamental understanding of how APIs work.
Starting with the domain where you want your API to run might be a good idea. If you’re building API integrations for web development, for one, you should read up on REST APIs.
Designing a prototype is the next step. Prototypes have minimum functionality but they should provide a base foundation for what your API will look like. This stage shouldn’t take long at all, a week at most.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is a step up from a prototype. It represents a beta version of your API which you can test. Not unexpectedly, this will take longer to build than a prototype. Set aside two weeks max for MVP development.
Related reading: Know The Top 7 API Integration Tools
Transactions describe an API call on your website or application. Your job where transaction management is concerned is to figure out what to do if a transaction doesn’t go as planned. Withdraw the transaction if necessary and debug the problem.
Building an API is only the beginning of API integration. And it might not be the easiest either. APIs rely on technical expertise to keep everything running smoothly. Note that the secret fifth step to building API integrations is servicing your integration on a regular basis.
It may have just occurred to you that all of this is going to take a lot of work. Well, you’re right.
If you want only the best senior developers to work on your custom API integrations, contact Trio now.
4 min read
API integration tools can play a helpful part in scaling your business. In 2018, 61% of integration professionals and information technology (IT) executives maintained that API integration is a necessary business strategy.
API integration is not only a must-have for running day-to-day business operations, but it is also key to business growth as a whole.
Today, you will be introduced to seven API integration tools that can be great assets to your business. Keep reading to learn more!
What Is an API?
An application programming interface (API) is a set of protocols enabling different software applications to communicate with each other. In simple terms, APIs are the middlemen of software.
APIs are a back-end structure, so it’s not a tool that you’ll likely ever see in person — unless you’re a coder, of course.
But this is where the particularities of APIs lie. Due to APIs, the internal complexity of syncing systems together is packaged inside of a mere abstraction. Therefore, users don’t have to worry about what’s happening behind the scenes.
APIs work in a number of digital mediums, from integrating the apps you use every day to lining the interior infrastructure of businesses large and small.
When an API is working as it should, the connectivity that results is called an API integration. API integrations are more than just code.
Rather, modern APIs are more like consumer products empowering software interconnectivity. As such, you’re probably wondering where exactly APIs come into play for you.
In reality, you’re probably utilizing API integrations more often than you know. Here are a few familiar examples:
- Netflix: Netflix’s software relies on microservices, an approach to software development where every service or function is wrapped as an individual unit. These units interact with each other via APIs, coming together in the form of a single application such as Netflix.
- Google Flights: Using APIs, Google is able to pull information from various airline databases. Users receive this data on Google Flights, all in one place.
- Siri: Almost everything you do on Siri involves an API integration. For example, when you ask Siri for directions, Siri uses an API to plug you into your default navigational app. Similarly, when you ask a random trivia question, Siri takes advantage of an API to pull data from your default search engine (likely Google).
- Marketing automation tools: If you’re familiar with the business world, marketing platforms should be no stranger to the business processes you use each and every day. APIs integrate marketing automation tools so that you can set and deploy workflows from a single platform.
Whether APIs connect software applications, aid business processes, or enhance the customer experience, it should be clear that they are crucial pieces of nearly all digital services.
Check out Trio’s article, “7 Examples of APIs in Use Today” for a more in-depth look at various API examples.
What Are API Integration Tools?
Business users utilize API integration tools towards better data consolidation. After all, data is king. And it is the job of APIs to sync data, effectively and proactively.
This can be a virtue for any enterprise, no matter if your company builds public APIs for consumer use or uses APIs as an exclusive solution for your organization’s needs.
To that effect, API integration tools help internal teams build, manage, and publish APIs. You can also run testing, prepare documentation, as well as secure and monitor APIs via API integration tools.
Of course, the main advantage of such a solution is that these tools adopt the principle of rapid application development. Or in other words, they reduce development time and costs by prioritizing agile methodologies within their platforms.
In this way, using an API integration platform can bolster team productivity by alleviating the burden of manual API management.
Top 7 API Integration Tools
Here are several of the most popular API integration tools that you should consider using for your business operations.
1. Dell Boomi
Dell Boomi is a cloud-based API solution and integration platform as a service (iPaaS) tool. Boomi features low-code development, meaning users can connect services and applications with little to no coding.
Other notable features of the tool include prebuilt APIs, drag-and-drop tooling, and activity monitoring. A basic package for Dell Boomi starts at $549 a month.
2. Apigee API Management
Apigee allows users to build API proxies. An API proxy is a bundle of XML configuration files and code that decouples the front-end and back-end of an API structure. Essentially, it is an API server that sits between an application and the back-end.
The end goal of an API proxy is to shield back-end changes from the front-end. As a result, the client-side can interact with a more presentable version of an API, while the server-side handles more complex formatting and data elements.
After building API proxies, Apigee permits you to do all the other standard undertakings you’d expect from an API integration tool. Pricing at Apigee is mostly customized.
3. IBM API Connect
IBM API Connect is a user-friendly enterprise solution for API creation and management. Analytics and built-in security name some of its most appealing features.
The platform is also equipped with a self-service developer portal that empowers developers to register, share, and deploy their APIs.
IBM offers a free trial, although their actual pricing is harder to pinpoint from their website alone.
Like other API integration tools, the MuleSoft AnyPoint Platform enables developers to design, build, and manage APIs speedily, using clicks or code.
To add, developers can also use MuleSoft to connect applications via custom build application networks on the platform. And MuleSoft’s API manager can facilitate integration governance and API lifecycle management.
There are three tiers for MuleSoft pricing: Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. Some firms are paying a quarter of a million dollars per year for MuleSoft services.
Akana provides end-to-end API management. In simple terms, this means you can access and manage the full API lifecycle within the Akana platform.
This is in addition to features such as a developer portal, traffic management, and vulnerability detection. Open-source support and a lifecycle manager are sure to come in handy too.
Outside of Akana’s free trial, you can purchase an Akana Business plan at $4000 a month. For their Akana Enterprise plan, you will have to initiate contact with the sales team for more accurate pricing.
6. Microsoft Azure API Management
You can manage all your APIs in one place with Microsoft Azure API Management. Get insights through API analytics and keep your APIs secure with token, key, and IP filtering functionalities.
To be clear, the creation of API gateways is actually the principal feature of Azure API management. API gateways are similar to API proxies but much more robust, operating as a security interface in and of itself.
They accept API calls and aggregate services to fulfill them, altogether acting as a vessel for you to render APIs.
Azure has an intricate range of monthly and hourly pricing with the cheapest plans starting at $48.04 per month and premium plans costing as much as $2,795.17 a month.
Zapier extends thousands of app integrations from an easy-to-use, visual interface. The primary motive of the platform is to entrust non-tech savvy users with the tools to automate workflows.
Naturally, the greatest limitation of this business model is the lack of customization. Therefore, Zapier can hardly fall under the category of a developer tool.
Still, Zapier is a premier solution for those who can make the most of it. You can start using Zapier for free and automate just 100 tasks. But as your use cases increase at a company level, rates reach as high as $3,599 monthly.
How To Improve Your Business Through API Integration
You now have an elementary comprehension of API integration and why it is a critical part of any business plan. API integration tools are similarly vital to API management and creation.
Each API integration tool has unique advantages. Figuring out which advantages can bring about the most growth for your business is step one.
Dell Boomi, for one, is well-suited for integrating cloud applications. MuleSoft is adept at painting an illustrious picture of the connections you’re making through API integration.
And technologies like Apigee and Azure narrow down their focus to API-adjacent infrastructures like API gateways and proxies.
At any rate, there are many options to choose from. If you find yourself in need of a custom solution, however, you came to the right place.
Trio specializes in building custom solutions, particularly where API integration is concerned. We have selected only Senior Back-End developers to assist you with high-complexity projects.
5 min read
Cloud APIs power the development of cloud-based hardware and software. And these tools ultimately uphold the integrity of modern technology today.
APIs and cloud technology are both relatively new emerging technologies. Though they’ve been around for only a couple of decades, their potential is unprecedented. By working in unison, there’s no doubt that cloud APIs can be and already are a great asset for many businesses.
Cloud APIs play an integral part in building, using, and maintaining software. Take a closer look below to learn more about cloud APIs!
What Are Cloud APIs?
Before diving headfirst into the definition of cloud APIs, you should first understand what APIs are in general.
First and foremost, API stands for application programming interface. Interfaces foster communication.
For example, a user interface (UI) is a graphical component that permits users to have a visual representation of whatever software they’re working with.
Though the communication in this example is not verbal, the interface in question eases navigation for sighted users.
If you can see this website, for instance, you’re communicating with its content via a user interface.
In contrast, an application programming interface stimulates communication between applications. Or in other words, APIs empower distinct software platforms to interact with one another.
This is how Alexa has free use of your Spotify playlist. And how your mindless search for “weather” can pull information right from AccuWeather to a Google snippet on your screen.
These connections are called API integrations. Cloud APIs simply reference integrations that happen in the cloud. Cloud APIs connect and are used to build cloud-based applications.
In general, cloud technology yields advantages to both businesses and individuals. Consumers gain increased accessibility and organizations save costs.
As a result, cloud computing is a hundred billion-dollar industry with much to offer.
Types of Cloud APIs
There are a number of cloud services, but many of these fall under three primary categories:
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
It’s important to note that there is also a distinction between vendor-specific cloud APIs and cross-platform APIs.
Here’s a quick review of the various ways in which you can categorize cloud APIs.
PaaS is a model of cloud computing that extends users hardware and software tools over the internet. A popular use of PaaS cloud APIs is to provide functionality for cloud environments.
Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure are two prominent PaaS tools for building applications on the cloud.
It’s likely that you’re more familiar with SaaS than you know. When it comes to software as a service, this includes any cloud-based application you’re using on the web. Some well-known cloud applications are Dropbox and Google Drive.
In practice, SaaS cloud APIs connect applications to the cloud and to any information technology (IT) infrastructure that plays a part in running the application.
On the infrastructure level, cloud APIs get a bit more complicated. Infrastructure that exists on the cloud usually takes the place of in-house data centers and servers.
The physical counterpart of such equipment is often costly to rent and time-consuming to set up and maintain.
Thus, IaaS cloud APIs aid in the distribution of cloud resources as well as network configurations and virtual machine management.
Vendor-Specific vs. Cross-Platform
Another way to distinguish between cloud APIs is by determining whether they are vendor-specific — that is, relating to a cloud provider — or cross-platform.
Vendor-specific APIs only support the service of a unique cloud provider. For instance, the Microsoft Azure REST API works singularly with the Azure public cloud.
Sometimes vendor-specific cloud APIs are synonymous with internal or private APIs. These APIs are exclusive to the companies that deploy them and do not have public availability.
Cross-platform APIs are typically open or external APIs. They engender functionality between two or more cloud providers.
These types of APIs utilize the same commands as parameters. Unfortunately, the result can be limited functionality, choosing many to opt for vendor-specific APIs.
Top Cloud API Examples
To better demonstrate how exactly cloud APIs are useful, note the following API examples.
Simple Cloud API
Simple Cloud is a cross-platform cloud API. Developed by Zend Technologies, this API serves PHP applications hosted on the cloud. To put it simply, through the Simple Cloud API, users access cloud services written in PHP.
Apache Libcloud API
Apache LibCloud is a technically complex cloud API that abstracts the differences between cloud providers, uniting them in consequence.
LibCloud API presents as a Python library that permits cloud resources to work together.
Amazon Web Services API
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon which supplies a plethora of cloud resources from virtual computers to APIs.
While there is no central AWS API, the Amazon API Gateway is sufficient for generating and managing APIs that can integrate with AWS and other web services.
HubSpot is a fully featured marketing platform that aims to help businesses grow faster and better.
Developers employ the HubSpot API to create custom integrations allowing HubSpot to work with other relevant apps like Zoom or Mailchimp.
Box is built for businesses. Its premier service is cloud content management and file sharing.
The Box API authorizes developers to manage and interact with their Box files. They can also use the Box API to layer Box’s content management system in the related applications.
Why Your Business Needs Cloud APIs
After absorbing all this technical information, it might not be expressly clear just how cloud APIs are going to help your business. But the reality is that cloud APIs help every business.
As an illustration, APIs are central to data integration. Data integration is critical to business operations. No matter if it’s connecting marketing tools or automating daily processes, data integration is at the crux of it all.
Trio Senior Back-End Developers are experts in data integration, including cloud APIs. Talk to Trio today to find out how cloud APIs can help your business!
3 min read