Working with 3rd party integrations, whether online or off can be a massive challenge. There’s the overall challenge of connecting the two very different systems together, while also making sure the 3rd party API (application programming interface) works with both of the systems and that the entire experience is pleasant for the user.
While installing 3rd party api integrations can seem like a challenge to any software company, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to ensure that every integration goes off without a hitch and is a perfect experience for everyone involved.
What Is A Third Party API?
A third party API is whenever a third party comes in to connect the functionalities of two apps together, allowing for one app to use the functionality of another without requiring the first app to build the function from scratch. For example, you may have found yourself using a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft, and seen a map on screen that tells you when your ride is due to arrive and also where the car will be going.
These maps aren’t designed by Uber or Lyft themselves, but instead a Map functionality from another application such as Google Maps is used to track rides. The third party functionality allows the ridesharing service to focus its resources and time elsewhere, rather than having to build a fully realized map feature for their apps themselves.
Tips and Tricks For A Successful Integration
Tip #1: Read The Documentation
A lot of the world’s problems would be solved if people read more documentation before proceeding with whatever they are doing. Even if you have performed the integration of a 3rd party API before and know how the general procedures for integration work, you still might find specific steps and concerns that you need to follow for a specific integration.
Tip #2: Use and Save The Developer Key
Most APIs, even the third party ones, require some form of developer key where you can process the connection and keep communication between the apps secure. The documentation for the API will contain the developer key as well as how you can use it, and it is a very important tool to ensure that an integration runs smoothly.
Tip #3: Make Sure You Understand the Endpoints and The Interface
You need to understand the API endpoints for the 3rd party interface, and an API endpoint is where the API connects to the software program. For the two programs you are trying to connect, you will have two endpoints where the API can request information from the program and will receive a response of the requested information at the endpoint.
The endpoints are some of the most important aspects of a 3rd party API, and they are the gateways that truly allow the connection between the two software pieces to happen. If the endpoints aren’t set up correctly, then the entire connection could be messed up, and that leads to big problems for everyone involved.
Make sure to monitor your API endpoints with various tools to ensure that the lines of information exchange remain open and you can make sure that your users experience no issues of their own. Some third party applications share a lot of detailed information about their endpoints to make all of this much easier, while others don’t share anything, forcing you to move along the hard way in discovering how the endpoints work.
Testing the 3rd party API functions can also be very helpful, allowing you to simulate a user’s experience and see any problems or potential pitfalls before things get to the public.
Tip #4 Log Your Progress
With all the issues that turn into problems when it comes to integrating 3rd party API’s into your existing setup, sometimes it can be very hard to see what requests and responses you have already filled out, and that logging can help you overcome potential issues and see where failure occurred.
It’s always better to catch a problem while it is small and fix it before waiting for it to grow massive, and logging your progress and keeping track of the integration means that you can more easily respond to problems within the API, preventing them from reaching all your customers.
Make Integrations of 3rd party APIs Easy
Integrations of 3rd party APIs should be very easy and should reduce the headaches caused for your team and your customers, not increase them. However, whenever it comes to the process of integration, a lot of companies make the process harder for themselves. By following the above tips and tricks, you can make sure that your 3rd party APIs are helping out your business, and that you understand what they are doing under the hood.