Integrating processes is easy, with Web APIs

by Matteo Sirri on 04/25/2014

SaaS – Software as a Service – is the software distribution model we need to look at if we want to look to the future (Giovanni talked about it here as well a little while ago). It addresses both the potential of the cloud environment while also making it easy to achieve advanced integration among processes.

Clients of SaaS services don’t buy the software. Instead, they purchase its use through Web APIs (Application Programming Interfaces): these are real interfaces, accessible online and offering use of the application from any client, reading and writing data, launching operations, and so on. With this technology, it becomes much simpler to let different applications interact. Consider for example how useful it would be if your CRM could retrieve electronic highway toll invoices with a simple web call while calculating employee expense reports.

But implementing Web APIs for your application is no walk in the park! In addition to deciding on a communications protocol, you also need to implement a calls handler that deals with reading the parameters, directing the command, and putting together the response to return to the client. As if that weren’t enough, each time you change the application, the code has to be adapted appropriately. Basically, it’s not a fun job.

But this is exactly the sort of situation in which Instant Developer really shines: in Version 13.0, I had the pleasure of implementing a new document service that makes creating your own Web APIs simple and intuitive.

Let’s suppose for example that you want to make it possible to consult your product catalog through a simple web call, perhaps to be used in a website. To do this, just activate the WebAPI service for the Product class: double click on the class, single click the Web API flag, click Save, and then simply recompile the application. At this point all you have to do is use the appropriate URL to ask the application to run searches and return the results to the client, choosing either the XML or JSON format.

To learn more, check out the User’s Guide. I have also made an example project to better explain how Web APIs work, and I invite you try it. Compile both the applications you’ll find in the project: one offers its own functionalities and the other allows you to see the web calls in action.

A new age is dawning for the integration of application processes.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting aspect of Web APIs?

  •    Integrating services exposed by Google, Facebook, Dropbox, etc..
  •    Creating collaborative application networks that provide services between them.
  •    Providing clients and distributors with a mechanism to integrate my services.
  •    All of the above.
  •    I don't find Web APIs interesting.
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Image: Sonny Abesamis.

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