Building And Consuming APIs Using API Connect
Have you ever wondered what happens when you choose to sign up to access accounts or websites through using your social media account instead of following the defined process of creating a new account? How is it that one is able to use applications such as MULA, Sendy, WiPay, Chapeo et al to pay for a service without exiting the application to go to the mobile money account to complete the process? What allows for the communication and swapping of information between these two separate yet somewhat related applications? The answer is in 3 words, that have been gaining popularity over the past 5 years as our lives become more interconnected. Application Programming Interface, popularly known as APIs.
Think of APIs as an interface, like this website where you are reading these words, but now instead of an interface that you can see with your eyes, it’s one that is running in the background communicating and sharing information with the other applications. APIs are what allow for communication between two systems or applications to happen. Scalable and robust APIs are best built using microservices.
Imagine a highway that is being built or repaired, the contractors will not close the whole road, instead they will leave one lane open to allow for the movement of vehicles. Sure the movement will be slow and snarl ups will happen but all vehicles will eventually pass through the lane. APIs that are built using microservices operate following the same principle. Should a component develop an error, the whole system doesn’t crash instead, the other components continue to work as the API Engineer works to fix the issue. For instance, if you’re using a mobile money application, should the payments option fail, you should still be able to make deposits or withdrawals into your account.
As a developer, you can use any language/platform to build and deploy your APIs, some of the popular programming languages currently being used in building and consuming APIs are: NodeJS, .NET/ C#, Python. You get to write lines of code with various parameters that allow for certain actions to be executed.
International and local companies such as IBM, Safaricom, Airtel, Google, Koncart, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook have opened up their APIs for use by the developers. This means integration of their APIs into whatever application you are building is fast and simple. For the users, you have a better user experience as the application is less bulky to use and as a business you save time and money on the project.
IBM have API Connect, which according to their website is, “a comprehensive end-to-end API lifecycle solution that enables the automated creation of APIs, simple discovery of systems of records, self-service access for internal and third party developers and built-in security and governance. Using automated, model-driven tools, create new APIs and microservices based on Node.js and Java runtimes—all managed from a single unified console. Ensure secure & controlled access to the APIs using a rich set of enforced policies. Drive innovation and engage with the developer community through the self-service developer portal. IBM API Connect provides streamlined control across the API lifecycle and also enables businesses to gain deep insights around API consumption from its built-in analytics.”
We will be exploring how to build and position APIs using IBM’s API Connect on 5th to 7th July at Zetech University. We will also delve into the different business assets that can be explored through APIs.
Keep it here to see how it will all go down.