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Working with API’s to enrich your website

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 by Servage

The term API is often described nowadays. It seems a popular feature around on many web apps. Especially large projects like Google or Facebook have developer APIs. But what are they exactly and how can they help you and your website?

API is an abbreviation for Application Programming Interface. A more formal definition from Wikipedia states: “An application programming interface (API) is a particular set of rules and specifications that software programs can follow to communicate with each other. It serves as an interface between different software programs and facilitates their interaction, similar to the way the user interface facilitates interaction between humans and computers. An API can be created for applications, libraries, operating systems, etc., as a way of defining their “vocabularies” and resources request conventions (e.g. function-calling conventions). It may include specifications for routines, data structures, object classes, and protocols used to communicate between the consumer program and the implementer program of the API.”

This means that an API is the gate to integrate another service into your website. For example Facebook or Google services. You scripts can interact with other services to get or post data, between your systems, to enrich the users experience. There are various levels of integration among service providers. Reading data is the most common available action, but more and more services also allow writing data. Again taking Facebook as an example, allowing custom apps to post data to the users wall. Or the Servage SMS API, allowing your to integrate SMS sending functionality into your website. The SMS API is described here.

For you as a website developer there are many open doors to explore. The more you integrate with other services, the more sustainable your own service will become.

Some widely used APIs:

Facebook

Google Maps

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

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1 comment (leave a comment)

API’s are great

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