Extending Website Through APIs
An API is an “application programming interface.” Essentially, an API is a means by which you can tap into a third party’s features, such as a mapping system, and integrate it into your own website. By working with third party features you save duplicating efforts; you simply add the feature to your site (paying the licensing fee, if any), and customize the widget to your liking. Some third party features are so well established or complex (such as Google Maps) that you wouldn’t want (or be able to in all likelihood-even after thoroughly digesting our course!) to recreate their feature set anyway. In other instances users are already registered members of these features, as in the case of Facebook or Twitter.
APIs are source code components that provide hooks, or “interfaces”, which web developers can utilize for connection to their own website system, allowing the two to communicate and integrate certain features. There are many companies which provide APIs. Although Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, and Google Maps are popular features to integrate into a website, there are many more APIs which can add to the versatility of your own site. For example, YouTube, eBay, Flickr, and Blogger also offer APIs that you can customize and use to extend your site’s feature set. Programmable Web, as above shows, at http://www.programmableweb.com/apis/directory/ offers a list of over 4,000 APIs that you can search by keyword or category.
In this post we take a look at integrating specifically the social APIs from Facebook, and also discuss how you can integrate Twitter and Disqus social commentary into your site.
Read Next - Website Social Integration - Part 2