API 101: How APIs are Improving Business

By Mark Geene in API Industry Trends Posted Apr 25, 2016

Just as the Internet had a revolutionary impact on our day-to-day culture starting back in the mid-1990’s, APIs are fueling every single piece of software that we use in our modern digital lives.

If you’re using mobile apps, surfing internet browsers, exchanging data on the cloud, or using cloud-based office programs, you’re consuming APIs. APIs, also known as Application Programming Interfaces, help us move data, power transactions, connect mobile and thousands of other normal, daily functions. Tasks that an API take on are so common, in fact, that we often overlook just how much we consume APIs on a regular basis. {PHOTO CREDIT}

APIs fuel the software that's eating the world

Download the Infographic: “HOW APIs ARE IMPROVING BUSINESS”

So what exactly is an API? How would you explain an API over coffee to, let’s say Great Aunt Marjorie who is still stuck on trying to make the switch from flip phone to smartphone? Think of an API like a Lego. Snapping Legos together is a perfect analogy for where cloud application development is headed. Just like IaaS (infrastructure as a service) has abstracted the infrastructure world into a single button push and PaaS (platform as a service) abstracted the operating systems and database software support world into a simple and portable platform, SaaS (software as a service) provides a world of building blocks (or bricks) from which applications can snap together like Legos, via APIs.

Kin Lane, the API Evangelist, explains his take on API 101: “APIs are not just for developers. If you can use a web page, you can use most APIs. There are a great deal of educational materials, to get you up to speed with APIs. API providers are also working to make it a priority to focus on non-developer users, such as data journalists, analysts, and many other non-programming user types.”

THE PRINTER EXAMPLE

How APIs Are Improving BusinessOne interesting use case is how printers are using (or going to be using) APIs. Before APIs, if we had a document that needed to be printed, scanned or faxed, there was a manual effort to plug into the printer, select your document, print and walk over to fetch it.

Now with APIs, you can use the printer’s interface to connect to a cloud document storage service, like Dropbox or Evernote, select the job you’d like for the printer to execute, scan & send or download & print.

So easy, even Great Aunt Marjorie can use APIs. Download and Share our latest infographic: “HOW APIs ARE IMPROVING BUSINESS”.

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