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What Is API Integration? Enhancing Apps Through Live Data Sharing

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In today's business landscape, the use of API (Application Programming Interface) has surged. This increase is primarily due to the need for companies to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and maintain a competitive edge. Hence, integrating APIs to enhance functionality is an indispensable part of modern business. 

What are APIs? How do you integrate them? This blog post explains API integration and examines how it enhances web and apps through live data sharing.


What Are APIs?

APIs are essential tools enabling seamless communication between software components. They permeate our daily lives, easily integrating into routine actions such as ordering a ride, making a mobile payment, or adjusting the thermostat remotely. 

More specifically, when you use your software to interact with these applications, they communicate with servers over the internet, exchanging data, which is then interpreted, processed, and returned to your device. This enables the smooth functioning of modern technology.

As detailed in the State of APIs Report by Rapid[1], here are some key insights into its usage that illustrate trends in API utilisation:

  • Among large enterprises with over 10,000 employees, over 40% have deployed more than 250 internal APIs.
  • The prevalence of developers working on partner-facing APIs has risen to 49%, up from 44% in 2021, while those engaged with third parties now stand at 54%, up from 49% in 2021.
  • More than 62.6% of programmers indicated an increased reliance on APIs in 2022 compared to 2021, with 69.2% anticipating even greater dependence in 2024.

Amidst the swift evolution of the global economy, traditional industries face challenges in keeping pace. However, firms benefit from the adaptability of design-first APIs, which are inherently equipped to navigate change. These agile, purpose-built solutions retain their value, offering stability in an ever-changing landscape.

Basic Concepts: Endpoints, Requests, and Responses

At its core are three critical concepts: endpoints, requests, and responses. 

  • Endpoints: These are specific paths or URLs provided by the API that represent various functions or resources. For example, an endpoint might be dedicated to retrieving user information or posting new data.
  • Requests: They are made to these endpoints, signalling the API to perform a specific operation and often include necessary information like headers, method type (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE), and sometimes data payloads.
  • Responses: These are the replies to requests, usually containing a status code indicating success or failure and, when successful, the requested data. 


What Are the Different Types of APIs?

There are various kinds of APIs, each playing pivotal roles in modern technology ecosystems and facilitating integration and information exchange across different platforms. 

1. Public APIs

These are freely accessible to the general public and utilise standard formats for communication, typically over the HTTP protocol. Also, they empower developers to access resources and services offered by organisations, fostering innovation and collaboration. For example, the Google Maps API provides programmers with access to mapping and location data, facilitating the integration of maps into applications.

2. Private APIs

They are restricted to internal use within a software vendor's ecosystem and are commonly employed to integrate internal systems, such as financial systems, facilitating seamless data exchange and workflow automation. They are proprietary and serve to enhance communication and efficiency within an enterprise. 

3. Partner APIs

They facilitate exclusive data-sharing agreements between two organisations. Through them, companies exchange data streams, enabling enhanced services or features for both parties. Access is typically granted through an onboarding process, requiring programmers to authenticate their credentials.

4. Composite APIs

They allow developers to access multiple endpoints with a single call. Composite APIs are prevalent in microservices architectures, where data from multiple sources is often required to complete tasks efficiently. Aside from that, they combine multiple calls into a single request, streamlining operations and improving performance.


Types of API Protocols 

Let's explore a comprehensive overview of prominent protocols shaping modern software integration from SOAP to GraphQL.



Real World Example

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)

SOAP, using XML, facilitates API communications over HTTP or HTTPS. Its transmission can extend to SMTP, TCP, and UDP. Its messages follow a structured format with envelope, header, body, and fault sections. While flexible, it is constrained by XML's rigid formatting rules, making debugging cumbersome. Despite its age, it remains in use today.

A real-world example is the PayPal API. PayPal offers a SOAP-based web service that enables developers to integrate various functionalities like payment processing, transaction history, and account management into their applications.

Representational State Transfer (REST)

REST offers flexibility by transmitting data primarily in JSON but can accommodate other formats like XML. They operate on a client-server model, utilising HTTP/HTTPS for communication. Requests comprise HTTP methods, endpoints, headers, and bodies. Stateless communication and caching enhance efficiency, with each operation assigned a unique URL. Compared to SOAP, REST is lightweight, scalable, and facilitates stateless communication.

A social media platform's RESTful API enables users to access resources such as posts, comments, and profiles through HTTP methods like GET and POST.

Google Remote Procedure Call (gRPC)

Developed by Google, gRPC is an open-source RPC architecture leveraging HTTP. It allows developers to define custom functions for inter-service communication, incorporating features like timeouts and authentication. Data transmission occurs via protocol buffers, enabling the intuitive structuring of data. Protoc, the protocol buffer compiler, generates comprehensive classes supporting user-defined data types. gRPC supports multiple environments and fosters efficient operations.

A microservices architecture implements gRPC to facilitate communication between services while ensuring secure, efficient data transmission using protocol buffers.

JavaScript Object Notation–Remote Procedure Call (JSON-RPC)

JSON-RPC, utilising JSON, enables stateless communication via request and response objects. Despite its simplicity, JSON-RPC efficiently handles a narrow scope of functionalities. It can outperform REST in suitable scenarios.

An online payment system employs JSON-RPC for real-time transaction processing, leveraging JSON's simplicity and efficiency to handle requests and responses swiftly.

Graph Query Language (GraphQL)

Developed by Facebook, GraphQL prioritises precise data retrieval, offering a developer-friendly approach for fast and flexible API creation. GraphQL ensures clients receive only requested data, supporting composite APIs. As an alternative to REST, it empowers developers with efficient data querying and retrieval capabilities.

A content management system uses GraphQL to streamline content delivery to end-users, allowing clients to specify their data requirements precisely, enhancing performance and user experience.

Apache Thrift

Apache Thrift, also from Facebook, is a lightweight, language-agnostic stack supporting HTTP and binary transport formats. It facilitates RPC implementation with clean abstractions for data serialisation, transport, and application-level processing. Thrift's versatility spans 28 programming languages, enabling seamless communication and remote service requests.

A distributed system employs Apache Thrift to facilitate communication between services written in various programming languages, ensuring seamless and efficient data exchange across the network.

These diverse protocols offer tailored solutions for various integration needs, enabling efficient data exchange and communication across diverse software environments driving innovation and scalability in today's interconnected digital ecosystem.


Why Businesses Need API Integration

Let's examine the practical uses and advantages of integrating APIs into software systems, from streamlining processes to synchronising real-time data.

Enhancing Product or Service Offerings

Even if you adore a software or application, it may lack that one feature to make it ideal. APIs offer a solution, enabling the addition of new functionalities or services without altering the source code. For instance, a fitness app could integrate a nutrition database for diet-tracking features, or a finance app might utilise a stock market API for real-time trading capabilities.

Automating Business Processes

It automates repetitive tasks, enhancing speed while significantly reducing human errors. For example, integrating an email service provider's API, such as MailChimp or SendGrid, streamlines customer communications once the initial template is set, leaving it to manage the remainder.

Real-Time Data Synchronisation

Imagine running an ecommerce venture and wanting to monitor keychain sales in real time. Manually checking several times a day provides insights but not the immediacy of transactions. APIs facilitate real-time data sharing and synchronisation across systems, offering precise sales updates as transactions occur. This functionality extends beyond sales; integrating APIs from analytics platforms like Google Analytics or data visualisation tools empowers teams with comprehensive insights into customer behaviour, website traffic, and overall performance.

Cost Saving

API integration plays a pivotal role in reducing operational costs by automating repetitive and manual tasks. This automation eradicates the necessity for manual data entry and reduces the dependency on developing custom solutions for data exchange between different systems. Also, it saves time and significantly cuts down on labour costs and the resources needed for maintaining and updating bespoke software solutions. 

Cross-Platform Compatibility

They serve as a bridge, allowing data and functionality to flow freely between disparate systems, from smartphones and tablets to desktops and cloud services. This ensures that users can access services and information consistently, enhancing usability and engagement by maintaining feature parity and data synchronisation across various platforms.


Planning an API Integration

Creating an integration requires a deep understanding of the systems you aim to connect, coupled with the technical expertise to execute the process. 

Here are some steps to follow:

1. Define the Project's Goals

Start by outlining the specific objectives of the project. Will it streamline internal processes, enhance customer experiences, or integrate with third-party services? For instance, a goal could be to automate customer support ticket generation by integrating with a CRM (customer relationship management) system. 

Understanding how end-users will interact with the integration is also crucial. Will it improve usability, increase efficiency, or provide new features? For example, integrating a payment gateway API into an ecommerce platform aims to simplify customers' checkout processes. 

By clearly defining project goals, you will ensure alignment with the objectives and facilitate a focused and successful integration process.

2. Set up Your Environment

This process involves selecting the right tools and libraries, understanding authentication methods, and implementing security practices.

Tools and Libraries

For most web-based APIs, HTTP client libraries such as cURL (command-line tool) and programming-specific libraries like requests in Python, HttpClient in .NET, or Axios and Fetch API in JavaScript are invaluable. These libraries simplify making HTTP requests and processing responses.

For a more interactive experience, testing and development tools like Postman and Insomnia offer GUIs for composing requests, visualising responses, and even automating tests. They support various authentication methods and allow you to organise requests into collections, making it easier to manage complex integrations.

Authentication Methods

Secure access to APIs is typically controlled through authentication methods. The two most common are:

  • API Keys: A unique identifier used to validate a client with an API. They're simple to use but less secure as they can be easily exposed in unsecured HTTP connections.
  • OAuth: A more secure standard that allows users to approve application interactions without revealing their password. It's widely used for its robust security features, supporting different "flows" for web, desktop, and mobile applications.

Enable Security

To safeguard sensitive details such as API keys and OAuth credentials, it's best practice to store them in environment variables. This keeps critical data out of your source code, reducing the risk of exposure. Most development environments and operating systems offer a way to set environment variables. In addition, many IDEs and tools allow you to reference these variables directly in your application code or requests.

For instance, instead of hardcoding your key into your code, you would reference an environment variable. This approach not only enhances safety but also simplifies configuration changes, as you can update your environment variables without altering your code.

3. Build the Integration

Once your environment is set up, the next step is to start building the connection by making API calls, handling responses, and implementing error-handling and debugging strategies.

Making Your First API Call

Your first call is a significant milestone. Start with a simple `GET` request to retrieve data. For example, using Python's `requests` library, you can fetch a list of items from a public API. Also, ensure you've set up authentication as required, whether through headers with an API key, OAuth tokens, or other methods. Also, pay attention to the rate limits and requirements to avoid being blocked.

Handling API Responses

API responses contain valuable information, including the data you requested, status codes, and sometimes meta information about your request. Understanding HTTP status codes will help you interpret the response. Parse the response to extract the data you need. For instance, `200` means success, while `404` indicates the requested resource was not found.

Error Handling and Debugging

Proper error handling is essential for resilience and reliability. Wrap your requests in try-except blocks to catch exceptions and handle them gracefully. Moreover, for debugging, logging is invaluable. Log your request details, the response, and any errors. Tools like Postman and network inspection tools in IDEs can also help debug the request-response cycle.

4. Test the API 

To test the integration effectively, begin with planning your test cases, including both typical and edge-case scenarios to cover the range of possible interactions. Utilise tools like Postman or SoapUI to execute these checks, focusing on evaluating individual endpoints for functionality, security, and performance under various conditions. 

  • Functional testing is done to confirm that each request yields the correct response, including both standard and atypical valid requests. 
  • Performance evaluation assesses the system's resilience against sudden request surges, highlighting the importance of scalability. 
  • Security testing, on the other hand, safeguards data exchanges, focusing on authentication, authorisation, and encryption to prevent breaches. 

You can automate the tests to run as part of your continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, allowing for regular and efficient validation as part of your development process.

5. Monitor the API Integration 

This is vital for identifying and resolving issues before they affect your users. The best way to do this is to track performance, error rates, and usage patterns. Utilise monitoring tools that provide real-time analytics and alerts for any anomalies or failures in API calls. 

Also, establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as response time, success rate, and throughput to measure the health of your integration. Regularly review these metrics and logs to detect any inefficiencies or errors, ensuring they remain reliable and perform optimally over time.


Deazy: Helping You Find Experienced API Developers

We are a dynamic talent platform dedicated to simplifying the process of connecting businesses with top-tier developers specialising in API integration. Our mission is to streamline the development process, allowing companies to rapidly enhance their software infrastructure with customised, secure, and scalable APIs. 

At Deazy, we understand the importance of having the right talent, which is why we provide a robust vetting process that includes technical assessments and thorough interviews. Our platform ensures that only the most skilled programmers, who are proficient in the latest technologies and best practices, join your project.

Hear from our clients.

"Deazy's speed is something we were really impressed with – being able to spin up a cross-functional team in a matter of days." David Rowe, CTO, Database

"We just told Deazy what we wanted, and they've given us the solution. We tried a few different options, and Deazy was the strongest candidate." Laing O'Rourke, CXO

Some of the reasons why we are the best site to hire programmers

  • Expert handpicked team of developers with skills and experience across tech stacks
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  • Guarantee delivery, ensuring our programmers deliver a product that meets your requirements

Ready to develop software or integrate API? We are just a call away. Get in touch with us today. 



API integration stands as a cornerstone in modern web and app development, enabling live data exchange and broadening app capabilities. It allows programmers to craft applications that are not only more dynamic and efficient but also tailored to provide enriched user experiences. Hence, APIs enhance functionality and drive operational efficiency, making them a key driver of digital transformation.


Frequently Asked Questions 

What does API mean?

API is a set of instructions and protocols for building and connecting software applications. It allows various systems to communicate and share data and functionalities seamlessly, enhancing interoperability and innovation.

What is an API integration strategy?

It involves planning how to connect and utilise APIs from different systems or services to enhance an application's functionality, streamline operations, or enable new services. This includes identifying needs, selecting appropriate technology, and managing integration processes.

How to integrate two APIs?

To integrate two APIs, start by understanding their documentation to know how they can interact. Then, authenticate, if required. Use one to fetch or send data and then use the other to receive or further process that data, employing programming logic as needed.

How many types of API integration are there?

There are several types of integration commonly categorised by their use cases, such as internal, external (or open), and partner APIs. These vary in accessibility and purpose, serving internal system integrations, offering public services, or enabling specific partner collaborations, respectively.