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Why to use APIs, explained in 18 words

Whether you read my site, SearchCloudApplications, another of the TechTarget family of websites, or any of the seemingly trillions of sites that write about application-development technology, three items stand atop the heap of coverage: containers, microservices, and APIs.

For the moment, let’s talks about APIs.

In a story I wrote this week about Shufflrr, a New York provider of SaaS-based presentation-management services, founder and CEO James Ontra revealed what’s under the hood. I always ask when interviewing a software company, because this is the sort of thing that other developers want to know.

Shufflrr’s business model is to provide businesses with a way to catalog and control their vast collection of PowerPoint and other presentations. Employees can view all and create new presentations through drag-and-drop of individual slides in the archive. Viewed online by potential customers, highly detailed tracking of which slides were viewed, for how long, along with other metrics are available. For enterprises with large salesforces, it’s a great idea.

“Every feature, function, and use is transmitted through APIs, which gives us the ability to grow our platform.”

Turns out this SaaS offering is hosted on Amazon Web Services. No surprise there. But, more interesting, the front end was built with Bootstrap, a platform developed at Twitter and which I don’t recall anyone ever speaking about before. Bootstrap is an open-source front-end framework based on HTML and CSS design templates for building web-based and mobile applications that work on and format properly for any device. Beyond that, the Shufflrr ecosystem employs the Microsoft stack on .NET using SQL.

Here’s the gem: Ontra explains the entire Shufflrr site is run by APIs and goes on to say, “Every feature, function, and use is transmitted through APIs, which gives us the ability to grow our platform.”

And there you have it in 18 words. Through the pervasive use of APIs, development is simplified. Internal process workflows and connections to external data sources are handled in a consistent manner no matter who the code jockey is. Customers can write their own extensions, if desired. Cheaper. Faster. Better. Consistent. Secure.

This, of course, is much easier when you are, like Shufflrr, a young company with zero legacy data and no legacy applications. The clean-sheet approach does have it advantages.

How pervasive is your company’s use of API technology? Share your thought on the good, the bad, and the ugly of designing, implementing, and managing APIs, either your own or those provided by third parties. We’d like to hear from you.