What is an Application Programming Interface API?

We’ll also discuss some common use cases for APIs—and offer a few real-world API examples that can help you get started. Manage your API lifecycle across multiple clouds, boost socialization and optimize monetization efforts across your entire business ecosystem. A simple way to understand how APIs work is to look at a common example—third-party payment processing. When a user purchases a product on an ecommerce site, they may be prompted to “Pay with Paypal” or another type of third-party system. API integration refers to how two or more applications can be connected to each other via their APIs to perform some joint function…using the API layer of two or more applications to make them talk to each other. And you can learn more about types of APIs, testing tools, and documentation here.

  • Expert API designers may assess and test a new API before adding it to their directory.
  • APIs are used to implement microservice-based architectures, in which applications are built as a collection of small services that communicate with one another through private APIs.
  • IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration is a hybrid integration platform that applies the functionality of closed-loop AI automation to support multiple styles of integration.
  • The API, itself an application, does not need to access the system via the UI as human users would.
  • To get a better idea of how APIs function in practice, let’s look at a few examples.
  • Almost any application layer network protocol could be used for an API integration.

Or you could use Shopify’s GraphQL API to build an API integration that sends a purchase request to another app when someone makes a purchase. Integrations improve efficiency by automating the processes by which related data aggregates within a single system. They allow users to spend more time working with data and less time collecting data. For example, an accounting system integrates with a CRM to ensure that customer name, address, payment status, and subscriptions sync between the two systems.


If you can’t support end-to-end API & EDI integration or if onboarding partners and customers is painful…. See how Cleo’s integration platform can handle any EDI, API, and non-EDI use case. APIs are also being used to create freight marketplaces where shippers and carriers can connect and arrange for transportation. This allows shippers to find carriers more easily and carriers to find more business opportunities. By keeping data in sync in all connected systems, productivity is enhanced, so you can leverage that data to improve efficiency and drive more revenue. From your business workflows to your IT operations, we’ve got you covered with AI-powered automation.

What is an API Integration

If APIs like this didn’t exist, developers might have to create their own maps and provide their own map data just to put a little interactive map on a website. Similarly, an API lists a bunch of operations that developers can use, along with a description of what they do. The developer doesn’t necessarily need to know how, for example, an operating system builds and presents a “Save As” dialog box. In addition to REST APIs, there are other common API protocols, such as RPC and SOAP. REST APIs are usually known as “RESTful APIs.” These APIs don’t require the user to store data or sources between requests.

Are there any alternatives to API integration?

Whether applications are internal to the enterprise or used between businesses and consumers, API integration is the engine that allows users to derive real value from them. Usually SaaS applications, these platforms are dedicated to the development of API integrations that help join other SaaS applications and systems. Unlike when you needed an expert developer to write you a script from scratch to help integrate your applications, today, you can build custom integration apps using robust tools that are available in the market. Some like RapidQL allows you to fetch and transform data into a form that your app can understand with just a single query.

This means that a change in one system results in a change in another. AWS AppSync offers fully managed GraphQL API setup, administration, and maintenance, with high-availability serverless infrastructure built-in. You pay only for what you use with no minimum fees or mandatory service usage. API specifications, like OpenAPI, provide the blueprint for your API design.

What are examples of API and API integration?

To easily understand APIs and API integrations, all you have to do is learn about the way international shipping has changed over time. Developers can also write custom code to facilitate an integration. This approach offers increased flexibility, but it is also more time-consuming and error-prone. After understanding these concepts, you can try working on them by implementing some of the concepts in projects.

Such a platform leverages proven pre-configured connectors and templates, allowing you to spin up fast and efficient application integrations. With API integration, for example, the information contained in an important database can be shared with your other internal systems, increasing the value of that data across multiple teams. Externally, api ai integration with database your company could make its APIs available to your customers and partners, so selected, mutually beneficial data can be shared seamlessly and in real-time. API integration is required for businesses to connect their systems and services to other external applications, allowing them to exchange data and functionality in real time.

Benefits of API integration

One purpose of APIs is to hide the internal details of how a system works, exposing only those parts that a programmer will find useful, and keeping them consistent even if the internal details change later. An API may be custom-built for a particular pair of systems, or it may be a shared standard allowing interoperability among many systems. Authentication tokens check that the users are who they claim to be and that they have access rights for that particular API call. For example, when you log in to your email server, your email client uses authentication tokens for secure access. These are only accessible by authorized external developers to aid business-to-business partnerships.

What is an API Integration

Having accurate inventory levels is vital because it ensures that a company only accepts and processes orders that it can fulfill based on its available inventory. For example, let us say your company has a TMS (transportation management system) and my company has an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, and these two systems need to exchange data. Yet, systems also use APIs more broadly to enable one system to access another for non-data transfer reasons.

How do API integrations work?

You can combine these types, architectures, and directions to make different API integrations. For example, you might have a public API with the REST architecture supporting a one-way data export via webhooks. Another example might be a partner API with the SOAP architecture supporting a two-way data exchange. Also, organizations set up APIs in ways that can vary tremendously from one to the next, adding further complexity to API integrations. An API (application programming interface) and an integration are sometimes confused. It can be challenging to see where one ends, and the other begins.

Unlike GUIs, an API helps software developers to access web tools while a GUI helps to make a program easier to understand by users. The third example revolves around the APIs that are provided by other systems, versus those in-house. Some of the most popular examples of core enterprise systems include Salesforce with approximately 20 percent of the global CRM market, and NetSuite, a consistently dominant name in the ERP field, to name a few. In this case, Salesforce and NetSuite present those APIs allowing a company to consume them to do some sort of application-based cloud integration. APIs today handle much of the work that allows systems to communicate both internally and externally.

What is the cost of an API integration?

Using the REST API, you can create a webhook in GitHub to be notified when a record changes. Or, with custom API development your custom API integration might use the GraphQL API to push data into GitHub or to fetch data on a recurring schedule. There are APIs for requesting text translation from Google Translate, or embedding Facebook comments or tweets from Twitter on a website. File systems that use permissions—as they do on Windows, Mac, and Linux—have those permissions enforced by the file system API.

What are the benefits of REST APIs?

These operations deal with the integration flow, including decisions and branching. This messaging (also called notifications) can be intrinsic to the integration and its actions or driven by the framework that supports the integration. To say that a lot is going on within an API integration is an understatement.

APIs are code-based instructions that enable different software components to communicate. If you think of APIs as the building blocks of modern applications, API integration is like the mortar—it’s what actually holds the APIs together. Teams can integrate private APIs in order to build highly scalable microservice meshes, or they can incorporate third-party functionality into their application by integrating a public API. APIs are powerful on their own, but API integration is what unlocks the most sophisticated use cases, such as the automation of business-critical workflows.

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