The Basics of Consuming REST APIs
Tessa Mero | 13 October 2017
APIs are becoming a very popular and are a must-know for every type of developer. But, what is an API? API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a way to get one software application to talk to another software application. In this article, I’ll go over the basics of what they are and why to use them.
Nom Nom Nom! I happened to be snacking on chips while trying to think of a name for my REST API talk coming up at APIStrat in Portland. Similarly, the act of consuming or using a REST API means to eat it all up. In context, it means to eat it, swallow it, and digest it — leaving any others in the pile exposed. Sounds yummy, right?
It seems that every application out there is hungry for an API. Let’s look at Yelp for example. Yelp by itself won’t have the functionality you’d expect. In order to search nearby restaurants or locations, it needs to use an API for a map. It uses the Google API. With that, you can locate nearest places and get directions to the place. APIs allow you to integrate one tool into another tool to give it more functionality. Without the ability to make these types of integrations, you can say goodbye to a majority of all the apps out there that you use!
So why are APIs so important? Most companies today have several different software applications they need to use, including sales, accounting, CRM, a project management system, etc. To have the software all work together is increasingly important for financial reasons, which is also making work processes flow more easily. Companies can also create their own tools using other APIs to enhance their own software, making their customers happier and giving them the tools they need.
Back in 2000, the very first API came from eBay. Since then, they have increased exponentially. In 2016, more than 50 million API requests have been made, and there are 30,000 available APIs out there. From 2015 to 2016, the number has doubled in growth from 15,000 to 30,000 APIs!
In my talk, I will be covering API basics, how to make API requests, how APIs are made, and much more. I will show you how you can use POSTMAN to test making REST API calls, so that you will leave with the skills to make REST calls on any API. This talk is designed for any audience level. If you are brand new to programming, that’s fine. If you are an experienced programmer that currently uses APIs but want to go back into the basics to understand the breakdown of how APIs work, then that is fine, too!
If you want to learn more, be sure to check out my other talk at APIStrat: “Chatbots are the Future: Let’s Build One!” In this talk, I will go over how to build a working Chatbot using the Cisco Spark API, which is a collaboration API for chat (messages), calling, and video. You don’t need to install or download anything to prepare. I will cover everything in the presentation, and it is designed for everyone to follow along. I guarantee you will have a working chatbot by the end of the presentation.
You can learn more at the upcoming APIStrat conference.
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