There’s been a lot of noise about API Integration lately as they have grown extremely popular. So, what is an API (Application Programming Interface)? In a nutshell: an API will act like a shipping container for software. Unlike those steel contraptions, however, an API for web services consists of all of the requests and response interactions to and from an application.
An API cannot be confused with a UI (User Interface), which is just the top layer interfacing with a piece of software. Whereas this UI gives users the ability to interact with applications with commands, APIs are what machines use to interact with applications. Most of the APIs in existence today are REST APIs as they seem to offer the most flexibility, are kinder to newby users, and work directly from a URL rather than from just an XML. XMLs are a file format that the predecessor of REST, called SOAP, used as a message format.
The nuts and bolts of an API involve your web-based and API-enabled application, a remote server, specific data requests, and a returned data function. REST APIs will envelop your application in a standard way and help it to successfully interface with online servers to make data requests. This despite the fact that there are many different types of software as well as many different types of servers in existence today.
So, now to API Integration. This refers to how two or more applications connect to each other via their standard-enveloped APIs to perform whatever common function is desired. In essence, this is using the API layer of two or more applications so that they talk to each other, despite any differences. Maybe we can design an API for politicians? These API integrations between applications can also trigger updates in the sets of data of all involved applications.
Ultimately, the reasons API Integrations are so popular right now are because the time savings tend to be significant and the data syncing is also a huge attraction. The value of getting each involved application in your model to properly connect with each other so that any data can be updated is obvious. But injecting automations across all apps without worrying about issues is even more important.