A big part of my role here at BatchBlue is to make sure that our products are integrated into other services. In order to make those integrations happen, we rely on something called an API. You may have heard mention of this mysterious acronym and maybe even seen a link to one lurking at the footer of a web page. In this post, I hope to shed a little light on what they are and why they exist.
One of the greatest things to come out of the Web 2.0 revolution is the ability of web applications like ours to share all sorts of information with other apps. Want to send a list of BatchBook contacts over to MailChimp? No problem. Wishing you could import your your Xpenser data into Freshbooks? Done.
The bulk of this sharing is made possible by using an API, or Application Programming Interface. An API allows one web application to talk to another to share and edit data. APIs let you take the chocolate from one app and mix it up with the peanut butter of another to make some tasty magic. Think of an API as a direct line between two applications with a secret handshake (called an API Key or Token) thrown in for data security. A conversation might go something like this:
BatchBook: Knock. Knock.
MailChimp: Who’s there?
BatchBook: BatchBook. I have a new list of email addresses for you!
MailChimp: Secret Handshake?
MailChimp: Swell! Send it on over.
Web-based APIs do this through an alphabet soup of nerdy protocols and commands like SOAP, REST, XML, PUT and curl. (This stuff is not for the faint of heart, but if you’d like to know more about the BatchBook API you can check out our API documentation or hop on the BatchBook forums to speak with Eric, our API wrangler.)
Here at BatchBlue, we’re all about sharing the love (and contacts!) A big part of the reason why we helped found The Small Business Web was because we wanted to get together with a bunch of like-minded companies who share the same open philosophy. (One of the requirements for entry to The Small Business Web is an open and documented API.) We’re committed to making our API available to anyone who’d like to integrate their service with BatchBook. We’re also working hard to increase the number of partners with whom we currently integrate. (Jump in the comments on this post to let us know which partners you’d like us to integrate with next.)
If you’re currently using the BatchBook API, I’d love to hear more about how you’re using it and maybe even help spread the word. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or share it in the comments below. Thanks!