Understanding API Integration

Understanding API Integration

November 2, 2022Uncategorized

What Is an API Integration?

If you have ever been part of the decision-making process for purchasing software for your business, you have probably heard the term API integration.

However, you may not be familiar with what it means. This guide will help you understand what it is and how it can benefit your business.

What Is an API Integration?

API is an acronym for “application programming interface.” APIs are a collection of software tools, definitions, and protocols that various software components use to communicate with each other.

Integration describes how two or more applications connect by using their APIs to execute a joint function.

What Is the Difference Between API and Integration?

While you often hear the terms API and integration used together, they are not the same thing. Businesses use APIs for a variety of functions of which integration is just one.

APIs provide the interface that allows software systems to communicate. Integration facilitates interaction between multiple systems over a network.

How Do Companies Use API Integrations?

API integrations allow software programs to communicate with each other and exchange data without human interaction. There are multiple ways that businesses use API Integration.


1. Configuring, Administering, and Monitoring Products

This type of administration is often referred to as “headless administration” because a human does not need a monitor, keyboard, graphical user interface, or other devices to interact with the computer.

The API does the administration through the cloud without the need for any employees to physically issue commands to the system.

Companies use these integrations to automate everyday product tasks, such as management, setup, and configuration.


2. Communicating With Cloud Apps

Many businesses use multiple cloud apps. Manually syncing data between these apps is time-consuming and can introduce errors. API integrations automate this process, saving time and reducing errors.


3. Creating New Apps Faster

API integration allows apps to draw on the existing functionality of other applications. This means developers do not need to create this functionality from scratch when developing new applications.


What Is an Example of an API?

If you have ever booked a flight or hotel room through a travel service, you have probably used an API.

The API is what allows the travel site to communicate with the airline or hotel chain’s systems to determine which flights or rooms are available and at what price.

If you make a booking, it also sends the booking information to the airline or hotel.


Why Do Systems Use APIs?

There are multiple benefits to using API integration.


Increases Security

APIs make it possible for systems to expose only the data necessary to complete specific tasks.

This is a more secure communication method than if third parties could access entire systems to accomplish the same tasks.


Makes Development Easier

APIs adhere to standards, such as HTTP or REST, that are developer friendly. APIs are specifically designed for developers to consume them, with documentation that makes developing applications that interface with them easier.

API integration allows developers to reuse software components so that they can focus on developing new solutions, instead of recreating work that other developers have already completed.


Increases Productivity

Using APIs for internal communication establishes well-managed and consistent methods of exchanging data and capabilities between internal systems. Many companies use APIs internally to streamline operations, increase transparency and make collaboration easier.


Improves User Satisfaction

The operations of most businesses are too complex for one application to meet all of the needs of its users. APIs extend the software’s functionality by allowing it to access some of the functionality of integrated software.


What Is the API Integration Process?

Connecting systems through their APIs is a multistep process that requires planning.


1. Research

Begin the process by researching the applications you plan to integrate and their APIs.

This will help you determine whether you can connect the two systems through their APIs and what you need to do to accomplish that.


2. Plan Your Data Flow and Create a Data Map

Identify how the APIs will exchange data. To do this, you must answer several questions:

  • Is there any authentication required to access data from the API?
  • Are there any discrepancies between the data on the APIs that you want to integrate?
  • What volume of data will the systems exchange?

Use the answers to these questions to create a data map, which is a visual representation of your data flow planning.


3. Develop and Test the Integration

Use your data map to start developing and integrating the APIs. Test the integration to make sure it is working as you intended.


What Are the Different Ways To Integrate APIs?

There are several different ways that companies can achieve API integration. The best method depends on the needs of the system or business.


Custom Integrations

With this method, developers create a handwritten script for a specific integration. This method is no longer commonly used.


Connector Applications

Connector applications are mass-produced applications designed to facilitate integrating two widely used software platforms. This method is not typically available for more specialized software that is only used by a few specific industries.


API Integration Management Platforms

These platforms contain a set of tools that makes it easier to build custom integration apps without the need for a developer with API expertise to write the script.

Such platforms make it possible to make requests to multiple APIs and databases at the same time.


How Does PencilPay Use API Integration?

PencilPay integrates with all the major inventory, accounting, and credit platforms. This integration eliminates the need to manually transfer data from one system to another.

  • Inventory systems, including DEAR Systems and Unleashed Inventory
  • Ecommerce platforms, including Pepperi and WooCommerce
  • Accounting software, including Xero, MYOB, MYOB Advanced, and Quickbooks

You don’t have to figure out how to make this API integration work on your own.

PencilPay will help you configure your platform in 15 minutes, set your trading terms, and add the application portal to your website.

We can also help you with onboarding your existing customers for automated billing and provide training and support. Contact us online to get started.