Getting started with API – What is an API and why should you care?


This is the first article where we will be covering everything API-related. We will show you just what APIs mean for developers, businesses and customers. In other words, our goal is to explore the world of APIs.

I will try to use a lot of real world examples so you can get the clean picture. This article is going to be a general one and we’ll go into more details during following weeks.

Where are we now?

We’re in digital era, of course. Every day we come across new devices connected to the Internet, new products, startups and innovations. Our lives are increasingly accelerated and they’re getting faster and faster by the day. In order to keep pace, we are converting human models into digital, thereby reducing the time it takes to implementation each task. Time is of the essence.

Web 3.0 is around the corner. You can say that it’s wiping shoes on the doormat and we are already given a small glimpse of it in the form of cloud computing and cloud based applications, infrastructure etc. Looking at the way we interact with technology, it’s practically becoming unthinkable to use application on a single device. Cross-device technology is no longer a luxury. It’s a standard, set by customers.

The hyperproduction is real and close to 90% of data online was created during last few years and just when you thought the Internet couldn’t get any bigger, here comes the Internet of Things (IoT). Slowly but surely, everything around us is becoming connected.

According to the GSM Association’s Connected Life predicts that by 2020, there will be 24 billion connected devices and, according to Cisco,there will be 50 billion interconnected devices by 2020. A huge amount of things we use on a daily basis is becoming digitized and the IoT market value is set to reach a mindboggling $19 trillion. Looking at those numbers, it’s no wonder that some think that Internet of Things (IoT) will have a profound impact on our lives, almost as big as the Internet had. The rise of IoT depends on Application Programing Interfaces (APIs), and rise of our life standard depends on IoT. You do the math.

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programing Interface. While that might sound complicated if you don’t have any programming experience, no worries, just imagine APIs as a call center which transport and sync. Content between callers. An API is a list of commands (and the format of those commands) that one program can send to another. If you are using Facebook, Slack, Dropbox or Google Analytics, you are already using APIs!

Today, companies are using APIs to share content across channels (Smartphone, Web Apps, Smart TVs, Smart Watches and even Smart Refrigerators etc.), interact between services and business processes from single data – centric solution. For example, you upload a file on Dropbox over your mobile device. The same file will be available in web application. Both applications will use the same server service to read / write a file by calling the API and receiving a response for that call. It is becoming increasingly important for businesses to shift mindsets and not to focus on technology behind the APIs. It is crucial to understand that APIs are the fuel for powering today’s businesses across devices and screens.

Why API?

I’ve already mentioned the importance of time and how the businesses are becoming digitized due to that. The goal is to offer extraordinary channels, improve ability to adapt quickly to market changes, interact with other businesses, reduce time of development and reduce costs of current and future development, closer business and development stacks, scale application, boost employee productivity etc.

#1 API enables extraordinary channels and quick adaptation.

Imagine an entrepreneur starting an online business. She might start by developing an app for web. After the app is built she realizes that there are users who highly prefer mobile devices and so the app needs to adapt (expand the channels). That means building a mobile app client which will connect to ready-made services. In future that could be smart watch or TV. Similarly, when an app is built as a one – off project, developing the next mobile app from scratch forces her to repeat the process and recapture data

#2 Reduce time and cost of current and future development

Using the APIs you will develop the first app with the expectation for more. Developers would say “Do not repeat your self”, “Develop for future, not for now.” An entrepreneur running multiple businesses / startups which will need a billing system. API approach enables her to create isolated billing micro service which will be shared across.

Maybe one of businesses will require a new payment gateway in the future. She will need to adapt the micro service and then the same functionality will be available across businesses. API will work behind the scenes, powering her businesses by exposing data and functionality for use on every channel.

#3 Interact with other businesses

An entrepreneur might start by developing an app for sharing content across social networks. Public APIs from networks like Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud allows him to interact and offer prolonged experience for customers.

It is a two – way street, so in future he can convert his private API into public and offers it to his partners. Interacting between businesses reinforce the business model.

Going Forward

I believe that APIs are the future of how businesses will communicate with one another. Our accelerated life require faster job execution and simultaneously affect the speed of development. Market demand is far greater than supply and to stay in the race, businesses need a tool that helps building fast and easy. They need to think in advance if they want to stay competitive.

In following articles we will talk more about the development of an API and running a business with API, type of APIs for business use, connection between business and development stacks etc. so make sure to subscribe to our mailing list in order to stay tuned.