Today, we’re going to do a quick dive into a subject that may be a bit daunting for some: APIs. We’ll be hosting a webinar on the subject of APIs on Oct. 23 at 10am Pacific Time — sign up using the form at the end of this post to reserve your space!
An API (or Application Programming Interface) is a piece of code that a website or software developer can make available to the general public. You could think of APIs a few different ways (just Google search “What’s an API” to see some analogies), but the gist of it is that APIs are used to pass information from one software program to another.
We could easily get into multiple blog posts about this subject, but today, we’re focusing on why providing accessible APIs to the public is so important for companies, and the benefits the general public receive by leveraging APIs.
One important thing to remember for those who are new to the subject: you don’t have to be a developer or any kind of technical whiz to leverage software APIs for your business.
The Value in a Public API
By making their API available to third parties, applications will gain a broader audience. A good example of this is Twitter.
Think of how many websites feature a Twitter stream on their homepage showing a scroll of recent tweets. This feature is part of Twitter’s API which allows users to do this. Twitter streams allow the Twitter brand and application to populate all over the web, not just on their own site, increasing awareness in droves.
Another benefit of giving third party developers access to your API is the opportunity for new apps, services, and integrations that can enhance your current offerings to customers. For example, Mavenlink Teams and Premier are seamlessly integrated with Google Apps, thanks to both the Google API and Mavenlink API.
Our integration with Google Apps enables your Mavenlink project tasks to populate to your Google Calendar and your Google contacts to be automatically accessible in Mavenlink. You can also attach Google Docs easily when you post updates in a project. For a few examples, read how APlus Interior Design & Remodeling and Autofuss have successfully integrated Mavenlink and Google Apps. Mavenlink Premier has even more software integrations available, like QuickBooks, PayPal, and Salesforce.com (integrations that would not have been possible had those companies not made their APIs public), enabling you to extend the capabilities of Mavenlink to tools and applications you may already be using.
Why You Should Leverage APIs
Working with APIs might seem difficult to do, especially if you don’t have experience with software development, but the benefits you’ll get by leveraging them is worth the time it can take to integrate. A few advantages to choosing software that makes its APIs publicly available is the fast, easy integration with third-party applications and services, as well as the ability to create custom applications of your own.
Some additional benefits:
- Applications built using public APIs provide frameworks for things your business may not have the time or money to spend on (for example, using PayPal’s API to create a checkout process on your site versus building it yourself)
- The API developer is the one responsible for updating and staying current with app functionality, so you don’t have to (in the example above, PayPal’s own developers are responsible for maintaining/supporting their API)
- APIs can provide a better user experience for your customers since you may be integrating with applications they are already familiar with and trust (such as using Facebook’s API to source comments for articles)
Learn More at Our API Webinar
We hosted a webinar titled “Make APIs Work For You” presented by our CTO and Co-Founder Roger Neel and the leader of the Mavenlink Academy, Melissa Bonney. They talked about what APIs are, how to use them, and how to best leverage the Mavenlink API to extend the capabilities of Mavenlink to other tools and applications (with a few examples of the ways other companies are already doing this).
Check out the recording today! We’re confident you will learn how to best leverage this technology at your business.