API, or application programming interface, is basically how programs talk to each other. The key word there is basically. Of course it’s much more complicated than that, but we’re going to break it down and have API 101, so grab your number 2 pencils, here we go!

How API Works
It starts with two systems, the “client” program and the “server” program. The server provides a description of what the client can do. For example: third party apps can access a Facebook user’s information (with their permission, of course). Facebook’s API has already laid out what any third party app can access in their own API, and once the third party app integrates their API with Facebook’s, they can access the data Facebook has provided.

History of API
API on the web started with eCommerce  Companies like salesforce.com and eBay released their APIs in the early 2000’s. eBay and a few other eCommerce sites released their API to partners and a few developers, the goal was to standardize how applications integrated with the eBay. In 2006, social media joined the crowd and Facebook and Twitter released their APIs. This allows the social media information to be accessed on apps like a desktop Twitter feed. The always innovative Amazon was quick to jump on board in 2006 with their Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It was began with just basic API with “put” and “get” functions and started what is now known as “cloud computing.” Almost every company has a use for API, and soon it’s going to be a standard business practice.

Why API
Why would a business want to develop and potentially sell their API? It encourages developers to create creative and connect with mobile devices. Providing API gives your business the opportunity to grow on new platforms. To use another social media example, users can access their Twitter feeds on desktops and separate applications because Twitter released their API.

Pop Quiz
Kidding.

This was just a brief over view of API, if you want to continue your studies, you can check out API Evangelist. They have all the information about APIs you could ever want or need.

The SmartFile product is actually built on our own API, so we ‘eat our own dog food’  as our developers like to say.  We recently announced a free developer account to anyone interested in working with our new API 2.0.  Check out the documentation here, and stay tuned for a new developer section coming very soon!

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About Katie Frampton

I am the Marketing Intern at SmartFile. I'm about to start my senior year at Ball State University where I'm studying Advertising and Digital Media. I attribute my love for technology and space to Star Trek. With enough Post-It Notes and Diet Coke, I can accomplish anything.

2 thoughts on “API: Three Little Letters, Big Impact”

  1. What drove the decision behind making a quasi-RPC type API vice pursuing a hypermedia API? After working with your Python wrapper now for a couple weeks I find it adds some cognitive overhead and complexity.

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