Abacus Consulting has opened registration for APIthon, Pakistan’s first-ever API-based hackathon. Being held from 13th to 14 January in Lahore, the hackathon will focus on mentoring startups how to integrate APIs in a practical business environment to improve upon existing services or to come up with new and innovative ideas. Apigee, Telenor, Momentum and JS Bank are the partners in the hackathon, helping startups use their APIs to better understand the working and benefits of using this technology in their platforms.
What are APIs and why should you care?
An API, or an application program interface, is used to allow the capabilities of one computer program to be used by another program. Think of how an application runs on an Android phone, it makes use of different APIs provided by it to run its functions, makes different threads, open files, launch activities and what not.
This same concept is now being applied to web-based applications. Have you ever come across an application which shows a destination or address through Google Maps? That application uses an API by Google Maps service. You can find endless uses of APIs around the Internet if you know what to look for.
How does an API work?
APIs work in a number of different ways. It can be used to expose internal data to other programs. An example of this is Uber using the Google Maps APIs. So instead of having to create their own maps and wasting valuable time and resources required for the whole process, Uber just plugs in Google’s API with their own algorithms and are able to provide their customers with the latest and greatest Google maps right in their own application.
Another approach which APIs take is exposing processing power and computational resources. Take the above example of Uber and Google. On one hand, where Uber uses Google’s map data to show their customers the real time location of drivers, Google Maps also make use of Uber API to provide their users with some nifty little features. Whenever a user selects a destination, Google tells the Uber API information regarding user’s current location and their destination. In return, Uber does all the processing at their end and return the cost of a ride from user’s current location to their destination, along with information about how far is the nearest Uber driver. All the processing is done at Uber’s end and Google Maps can simply show the result in a neat little window.
APIs provide newcomers in the industry a great starting point to kick off their enterprise. While making use of currently available APIs, they can build on the work previously done and do new and exciting things with it. Rapid progression of knowledge and quick advancements are dependent on making proper and effective use of existing APIs. Using an API-driven business model, a number of different companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have experienced tremendous growth in their revenue stream, have helped the developer community, and are significantly improving the customer experience through encouraging cooperation between different online platforms.