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.
In this article, you’ll learn the answer to, “What is API integration?” as well as anything else you might want to know about API integrations.
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 trained and skilled software professionals to work on your custom API integrations, contact Trio now.