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What's an api

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Describes what an API is in layman's terms by answering the What, Why, Who, How, Where and When questions and providing a simple example.

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What's an api

  1. 1. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com What’s an API ?!? The What, Why, Who, How, Where and When… But Remember That... Series about technologies explained in plain, non-geek language.
  2. 2. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com What’s an API? An Application Programming Interface is a computing system’s protected doorway through which a consuming computing system can access exposed functions and data. To access the providing system, a consumer must use a special key otherwise, the API will deny access. FUNCTION DATA Retrieve a list of business contacts All business contacts Add a new contact Contact added Modify a contact Contact modified
  3. 3. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com Why... Do one creates an API?: API facilitates system’s interoperability which decreases functional and data redundancy. For example, one system that needs the contact information can simply ask the Contact master system to provide it. Do one consumes an API?: Interoperability provides a faster time to market as it is more efficient to reuse a functional capability that already exists in a system than to rebuild or duplicate that functionality in a new system. It also increase data quality by decreasing data redundancy across systems which is a major cause of dirty / stale information.
  4. 4. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com Who... Creates and owns an API: the providing system owner creates the API. The system owner may elect to publicly expose and monetize its API such as large API providers like Google and Amazon. Cloud computing is a great enabler for such business model (eg: API economy). Consumes an API: these could be the organization’s internal systems or any external systems to which the API owner grants access, either freely or at a cost.
  5. 5. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com How to... Build and expose an API: technical skills are required such as API analysis and design, networking, programming, securing, deploying, monitoring, monetizing, and other similar competences. Consume an API: technical skills are also required but an API is typically much easier to consume than to build. It mostly requires analytical and programming skills to adapt the consuming system to use the API.
  6. 6. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com Where are API’s Private API’s: these are exposed on an organization’s closed network and can only be accessed by internal authorized systems. Shared API’s: these are exposed on an organization’s open* network and can only be accessed by internal and external authorized systems. Public API’s: these are exposed on the Web and are accessible to any systems for which an authorization key is granted either freely or at a cost. *Open network are securely accessible from outside an organization through the Internet or VPNs
  7. 7. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com When to... Build an API: when you realize that the functionalities of a given system could be reused by other internal or external systems, whether privately or publicly. Consume an API: when you realize that functionalities you need are readily available from other private or public systems that provides an accessible API.
  8. 8. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com But remember that... An API is not an obscure backdoor. It is knowingly exposed and documented so the consumers know how to use it. An API does not have to expose all the functions and data of its underlying system. An API can evolve over time (adding, modifying, removing functions). API’s from various providers can be used to build a whole system by itself or integrated to an existing system.
  9. 9. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com Example
  10. 10. Copyright2016JacquesLedoux jcq@ledx.com Jacques Ledoux Executive advisor for enterprises seeking their path through the maze of modern technologies I am: ● Business & System Architect (Enterprise / Solution). ● Executive Advisor for Cloud, Mobile, Social medias, Big Data, Internet of Things and API's/Open Source alternatives. LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jacquesledoux

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