What is an API integration?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a bridge between two (or more) independent software systems so they can interact, share data and improve the automation of common business processes such as CRMs (e.g Salesforce), ecommerce (e.g Amazon) and marketing (e.g Marketo).

Software development companies and app developers write these API connectors in standard software code (commonly JavaScript) and provide them for use by third parties, or to anyone who wants to use them (public APIs). Along with the API code, a company will generally provide the list of API calls that are available with the API.

These APIs allow external applications to make requests to the application’s data source using standard data formats (such as JSON or XML) allowing software applications to communicate with each other directly in real time, bypassing the normal user interface.

This data integration that APIs make possible has many use cases and can help businesses improve their scalability, as well as automation of their workflows. It’s also very important to the growing IoT trend. It can eliminate a lot of repetitive, time-consuming tasks.

The most common type of APIs, particularly for SaaS applications and web services, are REST APIs. REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer, and is generally faster and more lightweight than SOAP, and better for autonomous microservices in the IoT. While REST APIs can sometimes be HTTP-based APIs they can use other transfer protocols.

A key part of API integration is API management. With any new API the API design should incorporate the ability to manage the API from start to finish, the entire lifecycle and all the endpoint components that make up the API.

Some businesses use API integration platforms to manage the different API connections they use, and allow them to react faster to changes in their business or the data source they have connected to.

APIs are becoming more popular as the pressure to move towards a complete digital transformation encourages businesses to unite the ecosystem of management systems they use with API integration.

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