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The Magic Of An API

by Dani Berger, 2/17/21

By now, you’re probably familiar with NCS, and know we ingest hundreds of millions of data points every day, but have you ever wondered how we do it? The NCS Analytics Engine is set up to take in a wide array of data types from various sources. The most common way we receive data is through an API. What is an API, you ask? Great question!

The word API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s a link that allows two applications, or software, to send and receive information. It works behind the scenes as a go-between to connect information and data. An API is essentially a messenger. When sent a request for information, the API goes out to retrieve it and sends the answer back to the requester.

To better understand how an API works, think of an API like a waiter at a restaurant. You sit down with a menu full of options, and the kitchen will prepare your food, but the missing link between what you’d like to order and your food getting back to you is the waiter or waitress. Once you’ve decided what you’d like to eat (the request), you give that information to the waiter. The waiter (API) is the messenger that takes your request and delivers it to the kitchen (the system or database), telling them what to do. The kitchen makes your food and then hands the order (the desired response) off to the waiter to deliver it back to you.

API’s are used widely. In fact, when you are using an app on your phone or online shopping, you are likely using an API without even knowing it. API’s link information from one point to another, allowing us to be more informed and connected than ever before.

 

About the Author:
Dani Berger

Dani attended Iowa State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, with minors in journalism, communications and sociology. Her career has spanned across finance, technology... more