API Interfaces: A Terminology Primer

Service Objects provides API solutions for data validation that you can integrate in your application. At a basic level, this will involve establishing a connection between one of our DOTS validation products and your destination application of choice, such as a CRM platform like Salesforce, so you can combine our real-time validation services with your existing customer database. This process involves three relative terms that are different from application to application: APIs, connectors, and integration applications. In this blog post, we will explain each of these terms.

Understanding APIs

An API has two main functionalities: 1) it provides a way for systems to talk to each other, and 2) it exposes their services or data to other systems. The combination of these two functions demonstrates the power of an API: it facilitates the conversation between separate systems or platforms.

Instead of having to understand the internals of each system, someone trying to integrate a service only has to understand and have access to the API for the system they would like to interact with. For this reason, people gravitate towards API-based products, since they provide a method of exposing application capabilities directly from a system and combining it with their existing workflow.

Understanding Connectors

A connector is what allows you to connect from the point of your reference to a destination system. You probably have heard various terms for this: a connector, a plugin, an extender. Regardless of the name, the functionality is the same: the connector is a software module that performs the API connection between two (or more!) systems. The connector is installed within the platform and configured through various switches that establish links.

Using a connector is a powerful approach: it is written once and reused multiple times, it can be updated without requiring an update to other connectors or the platform itself, and it provides a faster and more convenient way to access a system rather than a custom API integration development – just like an HDMI cable can be re-used, and keeps you from having to write your own display interface.

Understanding Integration Applications

An integration application helps manage the connection of data, applications, APIs, and devices across your organization to be efficient, productive, and compatible with your workflow and your use case. Integration applications use one or multiple connectors to connect into different systems via the APIs that those systems expose.

Hopefully, this gives you a clearer picture of how these three concepts work together in the integration space and can help you better understand the terminology we use for API integration.

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