What’s an API?

API stands for “Application Programmer Interface” and it is used to communicate with external software and data. This allows the host software to provide information to external requests from another program, without granting that external software direct access to the data. In other words, it allows a company to share data.

We use many API’s in the course of our software development to attach our software to external data and processes such as PayPal and Gmail, for example.  Our weather application (NOAA Global Weather Watch) calls upon NOAA for weather and satellite information through their API, and we use another API to process credit card transactions from some of the custom subscription software we’ve written. An API also provides the communications rules to generate custom sales contact reports for Constant Contact or to allow Dropbox to deliver your files to another online service.  In these scenarios, information is being handled through API’s of the online services, which determines how and to whom information is available.   

Benefits of API’s

Almost all major online services nowadays have some type of API, including QuickBooks Online, MailChimp, and Google, but there are benefits your business can leverage by implementing an API with a smaller business application. As a business owner, it’s less important to know exactly how API’s work than to understand the benefits and value they offer to your business.  

Integrating with existing online services

Most modern businesses are using online services to manage different aspects of their businesses ranging from accounting to contact management.  Each one of the cloud-based services provides powerful resources and functionality that would be too costly to replicate within your businesses’ custom application. That’s where API’s step in; integrating your custom application with these existing services allows you to add greater functionality to your application and provide a central location for implementing any workflow. Your company may also have a need to provide data to other external outlets, in which case you would certainly not want to expose your data and services to the world, and your API will keep that from happening.

For example, API’s can include:

* The ability to generate Invoices for QuickBooks Online from data within your application at a click of a button.

* Synchronizing your contacts with MailChimp to keep an updated list of subscribers.

* Calculating the shipping costs for product or supplies to mail with USPS.com.

By using a standard set of instructions, an API, to communicate with other applications, your company is able to harness the power and functionality of large online programs. An API allows you to organize and report your data in ways that help you get more done automatically, and make better and timelier business decisions.

Development of mobile applications  

With the number of mobile users increasing daily, mobile applications are becoming more and more in demand.  The average size of a mobile application is between 6 and 23 MB, which is comparatively small, depending on the platform and type of application.  These micro applications are able to do so much by harnessing the power of API’s to deliver powerful, nimble apps on mobile devices without losing important functionalities or services of your business.  

If you’re considering, or interested in, developing a mobile application for your business, an API is a must. The API will handle everything from security to retrieving and processing of data.  The API becomes the back-end support for your business app.

We are here to help!

Here at Palm Beach Software Design, we are experts at implementing API’s, and how to best to utilize them to maximize your business application.  Whether through existing online services or developing your own custom mobile application, we are here to help you through each step of the process.