From being born in Bowral, and living in Mittagong, to Acacia Ridge, then to Marsden, Rockhampton, Port Lincoln, and finally, Yeppoon. These are the places I can remember living (discounting a few times we moved when I was 4 and under), and in the above map, you can see for yourself the course I took to get between the different homes I’ve lived in. All the way up until the move from Australia to England.
By far, I’ve not moved the most in my life, nor have I seen the most countries. But all the same, the map shows something important. Two things, in fact. For one, the different places in my home country that I truly got to experience. That I got to stay in beyond the week-long rush of touring the greatest hits. The other is to show you an API in practice.
An API is an Application Programming Interface, and at its most basic point, allows products and services to communicate with one another (https://project-open-data.cio.gov, n.d). For example, the map you saw at the start of this post. Consistent of 1300 data feeds, the Google Map API allows the users to embed the map onto their site, provided it follows Google’s rights of terms and service (Google Inc. n.d.)
Brian Proffitt, adjunct instructor at Mendoza College of Business, describes them as the requirements for these programs to communicate (2013). Essentially, they are pieces of code that are made available, or “exposed”, that allow others to read and make use of the data contained in that exposed code in their own software. Bypassing the need for coders to share software code, and saving immense amounts of time, this, in practice, is used all around us. From YouTube videos being shared on Social Media, to having a video call online, to embedding a map, all of this is at least partly enabled thanks to APIs. An example given by Brian in particular is searching for nearby restaurants on Yelp; Yelp then plots a course using Google Maps after sending information to Google, which Google Maps then returns with restaurant pins. Yelp then displays this returned map for the user.
This back and forth alone shows the incredible way in which APIs connects products and services, and above all else, how it connects people.
Google Inc. 2014, Google Map APIs. [ONLINE] Available at: https://developers.google.com/maps/?hl=en. [Accessed 02 September 15].
Proffitt, B. 2013. What APIs Are And Why They’re Important. [ONLINE] Available at: http://readwrite.com/2013/09/19/api-defined. [Accessed 02 September 15].
Project Open Data. N.D, API Basics. [ONLINE] Available at: https://project-open-data.cio.gov/api-basics/. [Accessed 02 September 15].