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Term of the week: what is an API?

You’ve probably heard this term a lot in the tech industry. But if you’re not sure exactly what an API is, this week’s term of the week is for you.

API is short for Application Programming Interface, and it’s the way different software applications communicate with each other, despite being coded differently. Because this happens at a software-to-software level, it’s not visible to end users so we are not aware of how often it is used around us.

The simplest example is shopping for something online. We add something to our basket on a retailer’s website and then go to pay. We input our credit card information at checkout, and a specific payments service checks the validity of the data and processes the payment. We’re then sent to a web page which confirms our order. The retailer’s ecommerce platform and the payments service communicate via an API to ensure a smooth purchasing experience.

Another example is between email systems and CRMs. MessageFocus can communicate with several CRM systems through the API, sending contacts straight to campaigns ready to send out. And feeding the information about who responded, and when, back to the CRM.

If you have a term you’d like explaining, simply leave a comment below. Or see other Terms of the Week.

 

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