Understanding Web Services and APIs

This week ‘s DITA session gave us an introduction to web services and APIs, introducing a whole new load of acronyms and jargon to try to comprehend. For me it goes back to what I was talking about in my last post about how so many people (myself included) are able to use a multitude of new and advanced technologies, with very little knowledge or awareness of what actually happens behind the scenes to make all of this work.

As far as I understand it APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are a key part of why we can so easily do so many of the things with software and on the web that we take for granted now, such as using social media across various platforms, and being able to access and integrate embedded content across different services. They allow for services and functionality to be shared and adapted (with mashups) without needing to delve into the underlying databases and code.

As an excuse to play around with embedding within WordPress (allowed through either the very simple process of copying and pasting URLs into the body of posts, or the only slightly less simple Shortcodes they provide) here is a helpful YouTube video from Google for Entrepreneurs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknvOGcLHmc#t=1648

And if that wasn’t enough here is an embedded tweet about APIs that also has a SlideShare slideshow embedded within it (too much embeddedness?):

In case you couldn’t tell, my grasp of all of these new concepts is still fairly limited. I’m looking forward to expanding on this in Monday’s session, where we’ll actually be using the applications we prepared earlier this week to give us access to Twitter’s API and mine some of the huge amounts of data available, and also going into more detail on XML and JSON. And if it all gets a bit overwhelming all we have to do is remember Ernesto’s catchphrase…

Featured image: Iceberg, Ludovic Hirlimann. Source: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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2 responses to “Understanding Web Services and APIs

  1. Pingback: Four Seasons in One Day | Drinking from the fire hose·

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