It’s hard to believe that December is here once again! As is our annual tradition, we like to use this month’s blog as a light reflection of our year before we close for the festive period.
One of things that we, the Olamalu team love about working in the technology industry is the constant innovation. For some of our customers, standard website functionality doesn’t meet the needs of a particular challenge they are facing and they need something bespoke. This is where our experience, expertise and our love of innovation comes into its own.
An API (application programming interface) can be a powerful way to extend the functionality of your existing website.
An API is a set of defined rules that enable different applications to communicate with each other. The API basically acts as an intermediary layer that processes data transfers between systems, allowing the opening of application data and functionality externally which can include third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments. Using an API, data can be pulled onto your website from another internal database, linking those systems for certain, determined processes, allowing the data to be read in a format that your website can manipulate and allowing a function to happen with that new data.
We recently used an API solution to help one of our customers to better manage the busy and time-consuming process of booking rooms. The events team in the organisation looked after room bookings and could manage the use of room bookings for meetings and events. This worked really well for their own administration, but not for people working outside of the events team. For other teams, is wasn’t possible to see availability of rooms and they needed to email the events team for the information. This usually resulted in a series of emails going back and forth as requirements were discussed, attendees contacted and a chain of information swapped via email until they achieved the desired room booking for their needs.
To make this process easier and to cut down on the time and number of people involved, we used an API to allow people in other departments to book rooms directly on the room booking system themselves via the intranet. Using an API, we were able to enable the requester to see what was available and request a specific booking – cutting out a chunk of the previous manual information request process. The API allowed us to manipulate the data which ensured that only the necessary information is displayed and no private or sensitive information is exposed. Finally, we combined the view of availability with a request form, so that the requestor knew exactly what information they needed to provide and the events team gets exactly the information they need, removing the email chain and allowing a slicker, quicker service all round.
In other projects we’ve used an API to pull data from systems to display publicly on a website. For one customer this allowed integration to an events listing system and for another customer, integration to a publications system. Using API’s for both of these projects have allowed our customers to maintain and manage the information on their website without duplicating data entry.
Where required, additional data can be added on the website side, for example, flagging events to highlight or adding images, to make the display attractive without losing the link to the underlying data. This sort of integration is possible wherever the other system has an API.
In summary, the overall benefits of an API are:
- Improving collaboration across an organisation.
- Enable automation of workflows but with inclusion of necessary controls.
- Decrease information silos, particularly useful in larger organisations.
- Support innovation.
- Enables existing website to evolve and better serve existing customers and potentially, better target new ones.
- The customer journey is not compromised as there is no visibility on the user interface, meaning APIs exchange data within the computer or application, and appear to the user as a seamless connection.
- Provide additional security. APIs separate the requesting application from the infrastructure of the responding service, and offer layers of security between the two as they communicate.
We’re excited to be adding Vue.js mini-app to two different websites at the moment. Allowing our customers to offer their users an immersive and interactive experience in an affordable way.
We are Olamalu, Drupal experts and experienced web developers. We’re a friendly and down to earth team based in West Oxfordshire, who work together to achieve brilliant outcomes. We’ve been developing websites and designing tailormade tech solutions including apps for a huge range of different challenges for over 10 years.
We work with many of our clients as an ongoing technical partner, but we also offer a consultancy service to solve a specific strategic challenge.