API for the Common Man

Our “Common Man” blog series is committed to bringing you the most easy-to-digest information on translation industry topics and technologies. Previously, we addressed CMS platforms and gave an overview of how to pick the best CMS for your company.

This week, we will examine another acronym, API, and how it fits into everyday life. Think you’ve never used APIs? Think again.

Let’s begin!

What is an api?

API (not the American Petroleum Institute) stands for application program interface.

That may sound intimidating, so let’s break down what it really means. 

API is a set of protocols and tools used for building software applications. APIs act “behind the scenes” to dictate how different programs should interact with one another. Basically, an API makes it simple to develop a program because it provides the components of a program, which then just need to be assembled by the programmer.

Many modern operating environments include an API so that programmers can write programs which will be consistent with the website’s interface.

common API examples

Are you confused? Once we list off some of the most common and popular examples of APIs, things should become much clearer.

  • Amazon: Amazon allows outside vendors to advertise products on their site in exchange for a fee. This is mutually beneficial because the outside vendors get increased traffic driven in by Amazon, and Amazon receives a stipend from the vendor.
  • Facebook: As with most social media sites (Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.), Facebook utilizes API through the many applications (think Zynga’s omnipresent FarmVille) it allows to function on the site.
  • Google Maps: Ever visit a restaurant's website, or Yelp!, and find that a Google map automatically displays on the screen for your convenience? Thank the Google Maps API, which allows the maps to be integrated into other sites.
  • YouTube: On YouTube, the Google API allows programmers to fuse YouTube videos into other websites/applications.

Why use an api?

Just like a CMS, there are several advantages to utilizing an API. These include:

  1. Speed. Programs integrate into each other quickly with the help of an API.
  2. Ease. Program development is made easy with the use of an API.
  3. Consistency. Programmers can write an application into a website and keep the interface consistent. Remember, all the building blocks are already there

How does this fit into the picture?

Most every website has “open” API information available to outside developers, which means that other companies can send information from their CMS into the onDemand portal for translation. As a translation company, we here at Lionbridge often hear the question: “Can we write into your open API?” And the answer is: “Yes.” We have a site, developers.lionbridge.com, which is where this can be accomplished.

Of course, this API data transfer has to be done by a programmer or developer who is proficient in code. That is, unless, you invest in a connector.

Next time, we will take a look at the wide world of connectors and how these factor into the translation industry.

To learn more about this subject and how Lionbridge onDemand can help with all your translation needs, visit our new and improved website (which was built using a CMS!)