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An introduction to APIs

An introduction to APIs

APIs are nothing new in the software development world, but the recent outbreak of cloud, mobile and progressive web app technologies has caused a surge in their popularity, especially web-based APIs.

What is an API?

API stands for “application programming interface”. The keyword here being “interface”, i.e. providing a method of communication between two services, similar to a user interface, except instead of a user interacting with an application, it’s another application.

Why use APIs?

APIs are useful for extending applications and providing integration with other services. By doing so you can alleviate the need for rebuilding features that are already provided by third parties, and integrate with those services through the use of APIs instead.

For mobile technologies, APIs can help provide a fast, consistent user experience across a range of devices when compared with a traditional web application. In a traditional web application, a browser has to download the page assets, namely CSS and JavaScript for styling and behaviour, along with the content (HTML) in order to provide a good user experience, which can add a lot of overhead. 

In contrast, a mobile application will only request the actual content (usually JSON or similar, which is much more concise than HTML) whilst letting the application on the phone handle the styling and behaviours. 

In a world where users expect smooth experiences with instant feedback – without racking up a huge phone bill – this can make all the difference.

How Invotra uses APIs

Invotra uses REST APIs, defined using the OpenAPI specification: https://dev.invotra.com/

Here at Invotra, we use our APIs for the development of our own apps, such as our mobile app and LABS projects, the latter providing rapid development and an early feedback loop for testing concepts which may make it into the larger product one day.

We also integrate with third-party APIs such as the Microsoft Graph API, Google Suite, and various AWS services such as Cognito for handling authentication.

To get started with Invotra’s APIs click here.