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Application Program Interface 101

API 101

The term “API” is shorthand for Application Program Interface which is simply a small collection of computer code that allows one computer to share data with another.

These days, every important information provider has not only a mature API, but they also have complete documentation that explains precisely how the API communications.  (The Docusign Company is a great example.)

The reason APIs are important to you is the vast amount of information you can collect about your web site users. For example, if you are a bank, you may wish to do a “consumer information check” when customers apply online to open a new account.

Modern APIs can collect and return to you address verification, Tax ID and document validation, credit scores-–a virtually unlimited amount of data is out there for you to use. It comes, of course, with a cost, and you may not have the need for the information, but, if you do need it, an API is how you’re going to get it. 

Before we leave the subject of APIs, we should talk about what happens when you choose a provider.

There are many really good providers of information who can supply the data over an API. Some of this data is quite useful. And, there are new sources that are queued up and coming down the pike.

A good thing about our connectivy apps is they are not locked into a particular provider. We can work with any of them.

If you decide to go with Provider A and six months later Provider B has a better offering, you’re not up the creek. Our app code architecture will easily integrate with the new API, requiring minimal code changes.

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