API for Beginners: Terminology You Should Know

By |2019-05-21T16:03:46-07:00May 21st, 2019|
  • API for Beginners: Terminology You Should Know

So you want to reap the benefits of automation, but don’t have the expertise to leverage an API. We’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think.

The best explanation I received of an API is that it allows two technologies to talk to one another. Looking at it that way, these technologies must have their own language, their own way of communicating with one another in order to achieve certain ends. So to equip you with the tools you need to start leveraging APIs and automation, you first need to get a sense for this language.

With the help of our Product Owner, Hanson Do, and one of our Sales Engineers, Travis Brittain, we put together some of the most common terms you will encounter when using the IT Glue API. Let’s take a look.

REST API

REST refers to an architectural style. If you’ve been to Europe recently, you can’t miss various buildings characterized by Gothic architecture or Renaissance architecture. In this case, rather than designing buildings, we’re talking about laying the groundwork for an API to communicate, and REST is simply the style being used. In slightly more technical terms, this allows for interoperability between different types of applications and devices on the internet.

HTTP Methods

There are four different types of HTTP methods which basically tell the API what you’re trying to do with your data. You can either:

  • GET: getting information that already exists
  • POST: creating something new
  • PATCH: modifying information that already exists
  • DELETE: removing information that already exists

Request and Response

Request and Response refer to the different types of HTTP methods listed above. Everything you do with an API surrounds making calls to that API. Those calls might be a request to GET data, and then the response is what the API brings back for you. In other words, request and response are pretty much as they sound.

Headers

Headers are used to pass additional information with request and response. With the IT Glue API, you will need to provide two headers, one specifying the content type, and one with your API key which we will explain next.

API Keys

Requests made to an API require a specific API key. In our case, IT Glue partners will have an API key linked to their account. Without the key, the API will return an HTTP 403 error. Essentially these keys are a form of authentication so that we know who it is using the API. You can also use different keys for different integrations.

JSON

Think of JSON as the language that two applications use to talk to each other via the API. Since an API doesn’t have a user interface, you need to be able to easily understand the request and responses between two applications. JSON is both human and machine readable, making it easy for us to see data flow between them.

JSON blocks include a key (which labels the data) and a value (which is the actual data itself). For example, a “serial-number”: “Q3HP-4C7W-JPAY”. The key indicates that this line of data contains a serial number, then we get the actual serial number value.

Now that you know the key terms necessary for using the IT Glue API, you’re one step closer to being able to leverage the full power of automation.

Learn more about IT Glue’s various features, including our open API, by signing up for a demo below.

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IT Glue is a platform for IT documentation and automation. Using IT Glue, you can organize your documentation in a standardized manner, so that all mission critical information is at your fingertips. With our open RESTful API, partners can automate many routine processes, and build integrations that we may not currently offer.

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