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A quick introduction to API’s – SOAP, REST & JSON

JSON LogoWHAT IS AN API?

Without Application programming interfaces (API’s) the world would be an unconnected boring place. API’s tie the digital world together.

Whether that’s booking a plane ticket on Expedia, checking the weather forecast on one of your phones native apps, receiving a parcel you ordered online or simply using a computer somewhere in these processes an API will have been used. Think of an API as the programmer’s interface into someone else’s software/ web solution.

There are many different forms of API’s. The older pre-connected world type of API’s typically came in the form of a dynamic link library (dll) that computer programs could use to do different things. This might have been a windows dll to get the name of the current user logged in, the current pc time or perhaps it was automating Microsoft Office from another application to do a repetitive task. Anyone who has used a digital device will have unknowingly used an API.

SOAP & XML

Then came the age of the internet. Technologies such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) were born. In the connected world companies could provide SOAP based API’s that users could consume to exchange structured information. This information was typically in an XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) format and online services that integrated with different sources of data such as Expedia were born.

REST & JSON

Today by far the most popular API technology is REST (Representational State Transfer). REST is the easiest way to create and consume an API. It uses standard HTTP technology to call endpoints that perform operations. For example, calling an end point of /users/James with the HTTP verb GET might return a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) object with information about a user called James. Calling the same endpoint with a DELETE verb would delete the user instead.

RESTful API’s allow your Instagram app to automatically post your selfie to your twitter and Facebook accounts at the same time.

At Innovative Creations, we have vast experience in both developing and consuming API’s of all types. We’ve consumed API’s from people like eBay, Royal Mail and Microsoft Azure and we’ve written a fair few as part of our client’s digital transformation strategies. If you need a SOAP API, a RESTful API or even a Dynamic Link Library so that you can provide your customers (or internal users) with the ability to integrate with your product or service then give us a call for a chat to learn more about how we can help you.

LINKS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOAP_(protocol)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_state_transfer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSON

 

 

 

1 Comment
  • David f

    22/09/2017 at 18:16

    Very interesting article. Thanks for taking the time to put this in simple terms for me to understand.

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