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13/05/2019 Unité Make APIs for You and Me | Salesforce Trailhead

Build Great APIs and Integrations with MuleSoft (/content/learn/trails/great-integrations-mulesoft)

API Basics (/content/learn/modules/pw-api-basics?trail_id=great-integrations-mulesoft)

Make APIs for You and Me

Make APIs for You and Me


(topic-title) Learning Objectives
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

Define and describe an API.


Name common uses of APIs.

Note

This module was produced in collaboration with ProgrammableWeb.

Technology has become a part of every aspect of our lives. We are all connected in some
way.

Through our phones when we look up Yelp reviews for nearby restaurants.
Through travel booking sites with access to all available flights and hotels.
Even home appliances are able to replenish supplies; for example, ordering
microwaveable popcorn directly from an Alexa-enabled AmazonBasics microwave
oven.

Have you ever wondered how this works?

For decades, most computer software have been created and distributed with one type
of user in mind: a human. No matter what chain of events took place under the hood of
that software, a human user was traditionally at the end of that chain. Because of this,
the user was only able to access data through a user interface (UI).

But what if that same data could just as easily be accessed by another piece of software?
In this case, the UI concerns are very different. After all, software doesn’t have eyes,
emotions, or intuition—it doesn’t need an over-the-top graphical user interface. However,
in the same way a UI is tailored to humans, software needs an interface that makes it
easy to get data or functionality from other software.

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13/05/2019 Unité Make APIs for You and Me | Salesforce Trailhead

Say, hello to application programming interfaces, otherwise known as APIs. 


Build Great APIs and Integrations with MuleSoft (/content/learn/trails/great-integrations-mulesoft)

API Basics (/content/learn/modules/pw-api-basics?trail_id=great-integrations-mulesoft)


(topic-title) What Is an API?
Make APIs for You and Me
An API is equivalent to a user interface, except it’s designed for software instead of
humans. This is why APIs are often described in the media as technology that allows
applications to talk to one another. 

In a nutshell, the client sends a request for specific information or functionality to


another system. That system returns the data or functionality in a response. To send or
receive data, there is an expectation that it will be in a specific format that both sides
can understand. Makes sense? Let's take a closer look.

A business owner at a local fitness club wants to plug in her new gym equipment for the
club’s new location. She knows that since she lives in North America, she needs a US
household plug to do this. She also knows wall sockets deliver 120 volts of electricity.
These known guidelines essentially set an expectation for any device needing to be
plugged into the wall. 

API works in a similar way.

(topic-title) APIs: The Electric Current Between Software


So what, if anything, do electric wall sockets have to do with APIs? 

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13/05/2019 Unité Make APIs for You and Me | Salesforce Trailhead

Build Great APIs and Integrations with MuleSoft (/content/learn/trails/great-integrations-mulesoft)

API Basics (/content/learn/modules/pw-api-basics?trail_id=great-integrations-mulesoft)

Make APIs for You and Me

Think of it like this: 

The electricity coming from the wall is a service. It can stop and start at any time.
The treadmill plugged into the wall uses the electricity to run.
Since the treadmill does not have its own source of power, the treadmill is
outsourcing the power it needs from the service provider, for example windmills or
solar power.

While electrical sockets differ depending on where you are in the world, they have
predictable patterns of openings; and electrical plugs fit those patterns. 

All these specifications essentially set expectations on behalf of any device that wants to
use the service. The plugs and power supplies conform to the patterns and
specifications (like 120 volts) for the service. The same goes for APIs. 

Like standardized electrical outlets, APIs offer similar standard patterns that make it easy
for other software to exchange data and functionality. Any software that needs to send
or receive data must adhere to those specifications to make a request. 

1 An API is the machine equivalent to a:

A Server

Personal computer
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13/05/2019 Unité Make APIs for You and Me | Salesforce Trailhead
Personal computer
B
Build Great APIs and Integrations with MuleSoft (/content/learn/trails/great-integrations-mulesoft)
C User interface
API Basics (/content/learn/modules/pw-api-basics?trail_id=great-integrations-mulesoft)

Make APIs for You and Me


D Set of instructions

2 What is a common usage of APIs?

A Ordering groceries for your home.

B Walking your dog.

C Displaying restaurant reviews based on your location.

D A and B

E A and C

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