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Have you ever heard of an API and would you like to know more about it? In this article I will explain to you on the basis of a practical example for which you can use an API.

 

Many apps and websites use APIs to provide you with the most up-to-date data. An Application Programming Interface (API) makes it possible to retrieve a collection of data from a database or to link software with each other. Companies can use APIs to link their own software with external software. Using a simple example, I explain how important automating a small part of a company’s process can be.

A company has developed a webshop to be able to offer its products digitally. The company behind this webshop has been using an accounting package for years, which she is very satisfied with. Normally, the employees of the company made the invoices themselves when something was sold, but due to the huge increase in sales thanks to the online store, they can no longer do this themselves. This is a perfect example for which an API can be used.

The developer of the accounting package they use has designed and developed an API to give the user access to the data from his/her accounting environment. This API requires a number of data in a certain structure that must be sent by the external application, in this case the webshop. For example, the example above can be the name and price of the product sold and customer data. The webshop sends a virtual package with this data to the API of the accounting package, which in turn starts working with the data. The webshop has given as an instruction to create an invoice. The API of the accounting package is ultimately responsible for its handling. Based on the received data, this will draw up an invoice with the sold products as invoice lines. Has the webshop developer chosen to start this process only after a payment has been made? Then, if the API of the accounting package is set up for this, for example, an instruction can be sent to mark the invoice as paid immediately after creation. In this way, the webshop has digitized a very important part of the sales process with one simple link.

This is a great example of how much time a company can save by using an API. Normally, the company behind the webshop would become increasingly busy with accounting as the number of sales increases, but by realizing this fully automatic link with the accounting package, there is room to grow. The valuable time saved can be used elsewhere within the company. That’s just profit!