What is API integration and how can you use API integrations to enrich your own web and mobile applications with third-party apps and tools? These two questions are crucial for the online aspect of any modern business. Today, we’ll get into the basics to figure out the API integration meaning as well as showcase a top-notch API integration platform called ZEGOCLOUD for video, voice, chat, and several other capabilities.
Let’s first understand the term API or Application Programming Interface. There are several technical definitions for API, of course, but let’s try to keep it as simple as possible. In essence, API is a set of communication rules for software components to ‘talk’ to each other. The communication link is vital in establishing a connection between two applications so they can function together to perform a particular task.
If you want a more technical explanation, API is a collection of tools, protocols, and subroutine definitions used to build application software. Digging deeper, APIs refer to the collective communications that are received (request) and transmitted (response) from an application. The essential parts of an API such as REST API, the most widely used one, comprise the following:
- Your application, which can be web or mobile-based and must be API-enabled
- A remote server to receive requests and send responses as data or a function
- The request itself
- The response returned by the server
The term API integration is used when two or more application API layers allow these applications to communicate with each other to perform the desired function or introduce a specific capability, such as live chat or a video stream.
Without API integration, every single capability needs to be built from the ground up. That’s a massive waste of developer resources because there’s already an app that does what you want. The only problem is that your own app doesn’t have access to those capabilities, which is where API integration plays a major role. By allowing your app to communicate with another app that does have that capability, you can save both time and money.
Another reason why API integrations are essential to modern workflows is the need to handle multiple tasks based on a single request. In other words, it provides the user with a much simpler process to execute, which is crucial to user experience. Going back to the example of eCommerce, when you choose a product and add it to your cart, that’s just the first step. You then have to specify the shipping and billing details, choose the delivery method (if available), choose the payment option, and then process the payment. Imagine if you had to go to 5 different websites just to perform one transaction!
Without API integrations, your application will need to handle all these various tasks – process the transaction, authenticate the payment, charge your card or PayPal account, send the information to the shipper, and so on. Of course, you can build such an app with all these capabilities baked in, but why do that when you can easily use the API method to fetch the information from a multitude of servers that already contain these bits of data?
The third reason to use API integrations is the automation element. Human resources are highly valuable, especially skilled ones. Rather than deploy your resources to coordinate and monitor the communication that happens between two or more applications, you can use standardized API calls to bring expansive functionality into your own homegrown application. It’s faster, more reliable, and much cheaper, which is why it has become an essential part of modern workflows.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an application that doesn’t offer an API these days. Nevertheless, unless they have some specific features, they may not be as useful to you. Let’s explore some basic and must-have API integration features.
With data security coming to the forefront in recent years, it is imperative that the API you’re considering be robust in terms of security. That means having the necessary certificates for HTTPS/SSL, CORS or cross-origin resource sharing, authentication such as JWTs (JSON Web Tokens), and authorization/scope.
Developers have a curious relationship with the world of documentation; one of love and hate at the same time! Nevertheless, an API must have clear and easily accessible documentation to show developers how to use it and offer various resources to set up the integration. This should necessarily include onboarding documents or ReadMes, tech specs, and how-to guides.
Although this area is usually considered as not being that important, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Applying validation before actually processing the data from a client request can help avoid a lot of problems down the road. The simple act of making sure that a date is properly formatted or that an email is a valid one can ensure the consistency and safety aspects of the application. Make sure the API you want to integrate has this provision.
An API platform should have the correct error status codes so developers know what’s going on and try to fix issues themselves. For instance, when you come across an error, it should tell you two things – first, whether it’s a server error or a client error, and second, some additional details on how to resolve the error. It sounds straightforward, but many APIs don’t use a standardized approach, which makes it hard for developers to understand issues and fix them.
Now it’s time to showcase ZEGOCLOUD, one of the most preferred WebRTC API platforms for APIs and SDKs for video, chat, and voice. ZEGOCLOUD offers a range of solutions for developers and businesses to benefit from world-class video, audio, and chat messaging tools that can be rapidly integrated into web and mobile applications. In addition, developers can take advantage of over 20 UIKits so they don’t have to build the interface from scratch. But that’s not all: most importantly, it allows businesses to build strong branding and sales channels by leveraging low-latency, high-performance tools for video, chat, and voice.
- Ready-to-use UI components or entire UIKits to help cut deploy times
- Wide support for diverse client devices and network environments
- Low-cost solution to bring high-end performance to your applications
- High availability with 99.99% uptime assurance
- SDKs support nearly 20 programming languages
- Ample documentation to find what you need
- Latency of 79ms achieved, with an average of just 300ms
- High standards of privacy and data security
Transparent and fair pricing aren’t just buzzwords at ZEGOCLOUD. Users are given clear pricing with no hidden costs. Billing is done on a per-minute basis and varies across voice, video, live streaming, and other APIs/SDKs:
Live Streaming – $0.39 per 1000 minutes
Video Call – $3.99 per 1000 participant minutes
Voice Call – $0.99 per 1000 participant minutes
In-app Chat – Free for up to 100 monthly users (MAUs)