By its nature, custom software is unique. It isn’t part of a package like Microsoft Office.
It’s a standalone application created to meet a specific need that prepackaged, off-the-shelf software doesn’t.
To get a custom solution to work with the other applications, you need an application programming interface, or API.
In this article, we’ll delve into what APIs are, their benefits, and some common examples.
What is an API?
An API is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software applications. It provides a way for two or more applications to communicate with each other and exchange data.
APIs allow you to leverage pre-existing functionality and data from other systems without having to build them from scratch, making it faster and more efficient to develop custom software.
For example, if you need non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), you might use an app to help you schedule rides. While it might seem like one app to you, there are actually hundreds of different apps running after you book that ride. One app is for your payment, one calculates your current location, one handles the review you leave at the end of the trip, and so on.
What makes it seem like one app are the APIs that connect the apps together.
Key Benefits of APIs
One of the main benefits of APIs is that they simplify the integration of different systems.
With APIs, you can create custom software solutions that seamlessly integrate with other software, such as third-party applications, databases, and services. This allows for a more streamlined and connected user experience.
Another advantage of APIs is that they enable you to adapt to changing market demands quickly. APIs allow you to easily incorporate new technologies and features into your custom software solutions without having to start from scratch. This enables your business to stay agile and competitive in an ever-evolving market.
Types of APIs
APIs can be categorized into different types based on their purpose and functionality. Let’s look at some common types of APIs.
These APIs are accessed over the web and enable interaction with web services. They often use HTTP/HTTPS and formats like JSON or XML for data exchange. Examples include the Twitter API, the Google Maps API, the Facebook Graph API, and the brand-new popover API.
Operating System APIs
These APIs provide a set of functions and routines for developers to interact with the underlying operating system. They enable file management, network communication, hardware control, and other such tasks. Examples include the Windows API and POSIX API for Unix-like systems.
These APIs are part of software libraries or frameworks and provide pre-defined functions and classes that developers can use to build applications. They often serve specific purposes like database access, image processing, or user interface creation. Examples include the Java API, .NET Framework API, and Python’s standard library.
How Do APIs Work?
To illustrate how APIs work in the real world, let’s return to our NEMT example.
When you book a ride using your NEMT company’s app, you begin by entering data. The data may include your pickup location, the date and time you need the ride, where you’re going, the date and time you need a return trip, the type of vehicle requested (wheelchair enabled, ambulette, etc.), and any special requirements you have.
To finalize your reservation, you need to interact with the NEMT provider’s website to access their database, see if any rides are available, and determine the cost based on the date, time, type of vehicle, and so on.
The API is the interface that delivers the data from the application you’re using to the provider’s systems over the internet. It then takes the provider’s response to your request and returns it to the app you’re using. It also facilitates the interaction between the app and the provider’s systems through each step of the process — from date and time selection to booking and payment.
APIs do this for all interactions between applications, data, and devices. They allow data transmission from system to system, creating a connected experience. APIs provide a standard way of accessing any application data or device, whether it’s accessing cloud applications or shopping from your mobile phone.
What Is Custom API Development?
Custom API development services help your business share data from its custom apps with other custom software or third-party apps. You can achieve more efficient, secure, and seamless data exchange and application integration by designing and developing APIs tailored to your specific needs.
And that means that custom API integration software services help you improve business productivity and implementation.
Part of this work is implementing API authentication methods like oAuth, API Keys, JWT, SAML, and token to establish secure API integrations. A third-party API integration developer can build secure custom API solutions to enable your app to synchronize data in real time and eliminate redundant processes. Custom API integration software can leverage various security levels based on your business needs.
Third-party API Integrations
You can leverage third-party API integration and development services to connect your internal apps, websites, and systems. Businesses often do this to enhance productivity and work efficiency.
If you develop custom software for your business, API integration can connect your websites and apps to a payment gateway such as Stripe, Paypal, Amazon Pay, and others.
API Integration for Social Media
Social media API integration helps increase traffic to your website and boost your social presence. Grow your audience reach and feature your social content with potential customers and clients to increase your ROI.
APIs are a crucial component in the journey to develop custom software. They enable developers to create solutions that seamlessly integrate with other software and services, allowing your business to stay competitive in a rapidly changing digital landscape. As more and more companies look to develop custom software solutions, the role of APIs will only continue to grow in importance.