An API primer to impress your friends
API, the acronym, gets thrown around a lot in the software business—sometimes correctly and sometimes as a label for any magical razzle dazzle that seems to happen online.
An API, which stands for Application Programming Interface, is a common method of allowing one application to talk to another application. An application sends requests and/or receives responses from the other application.
Everyone who uses the Web takes advantage of APIs daily, often many times daily. For example, travel booking sites such as Priceline or Expedia receive data from other travel providers using APIs to display prices and other current details such as resource availability. Amazon, when it displays product information from third-party sellers, is using an API for the same purposes.
Like many software solution providers, Learning Stream using an API to share information with other applications, such as learning management systems (LMSs). A Learning Stream user will choose, from a menu of options, what data is to be shared with another system. The receiving system—the LMS in this case—may want to know who signed up, what eLearning content they signed up to take, and if they paid for it. Learning Stream puts that information in a virtual container which is available to the LMS at a private link. Then, using security keys, the other system can come to take it.
Using the same LMS example, Learning Stream can also receive confirmations of attendance from the other system. When someone who signs up in the LMS completes a task (e.g. viewing eLearning content), that action can be automatically marked in Learning Stream. Using that information, Learning Stream will perform follow-up actions, such as sending evaluations, noting assigning continuing education certificates, and issuing certificates of completion.
No software application can do everything, but APIs allow programs with complementary functions to communicate with each other to the benefit of their mutual customers. If you have questions about Learning Stream’s API capabilities, please contact us at your convenience.