We spend every day communicating with each other. Be it in a written or spoken form - we communicate words and phrases to each other, delivering certain messages to the addressee. Generally speaking, the same happens with software. By sending signals to each other, programs establish a virtual connection through communication. This is made possible due to APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
Connectivity is an impressive possibility to put the entire world at our fingertips. Due to connectivity, one has the possibility of accessing any person, product, service or data no matter where they may be located. Thanks to the ongoing technological progress and the evolvement of web technologies, we can run thousands of operations from our desktop or handheld devices. For instance, we can make purchases, do reservations, post articles, search data, and do a whole lot of other things from home or on the go. In the modern world, we are connected to each other better than ever before. How does data get from one point to another that fast? How do different devices and applications connect to each other? All that is possible with API.
If we refer to Webopedia, we will find the following definition of API there:
Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.
Simply put, API is a messenger that takes a request and tells a system what you want to do. Then, when a response is ready, the messenger delivers it back to you. That's how API functions. To put it even clearer, let's consider the following example.
You come to a restaurant and look through the menu. When you are ready to make an order, you communicate it to the waiter. He takes the request and delivers it to the kitchen. When your food is ready, the waiter takes it and delivers back to your table. In the given scenario:
Let's now refer to a real example. You are probably familiar with Bellaina WordPress theme from TemplateMonster. This is a ready-made, powerful starting point of property selling sites. One of its most outstanding features in a built-in Cherry Real Estate plugin, which allows customers run advanced property search.
It is presented by means of a detailed search request form, where a person can specify what type of property he is searching, in which location, at what price, etc. As soon as one specifies the search intentions, the plugin sends a request to the server and collects all offers that are related to the search request, and sends them back to the web page by displaying all search results on Google map API. There is no need to leave the site and look for the property location on Google Maps. Everything is integrated into the functionality of the same template.
While there are hundreds of APIs that will help you on an everyday basis, there are plenty of ways through which you can benefit from these while running a business. Having access to the most accurate and up-to-date information about your online project, checking out the current status of orders, traffic conditions, etc. - these are only a few ideas on how to benefits from APIs when running a business. Here are a few more suggestions.
We may not notice it, but we have become very much dependent on API-based software. It's become so much more convenient to keep the latest updates of traffic conditions in your area at your fingertips that we can hardly imagine what our lives would be like without this knowledge. We can access weather forecast data and run so many other apps that rely on API without even knowing it.
All this opens a number of opportunities for developers to integrate more apps into their projects as well as share technology and data with one another for better efficiency. At the moment, the web figures there are over 15,000 public APIs. In the next couple of years, this number is expected to experience manifold growth, which will provide for vaster opportunities for further innovations.
Never be afraid to use APIs in your business. Integrate and automate as much as it's possible. Let's see where it'll take us.
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