An API (application programming interface) is a software-to-software interface that enables two applications to exchange data with each other.
Or a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other and share data with each other.
API shows how two applications interact with each other. The API development makes it easier to create a program by providing all the building blocks, and at the end, the developer put all the blocks together to form an API.
- WhatsApp messaging application integrates Google maps to share the live location of a user with another user.
- Facebook wall feeds enable customers to display the post from their different Facebook pages on the webstore.
- ABC website integrates Youtube. So that the users on ABC can watch Youtube videos without leaving the actual website.
It’s very hard nowadays to move around the technology without some reference to the API.
In simple terms, APIs have defined sets of rules which govern how one application communicates with other applications.
Opencart is one such CMS that, principally, makes ecommerce web development easier and more profound.
But the thing is, exchanging and fetching data between the platform, web server, database and frontend are simple and direct in the case of the web application as they all are part of the same software components.
But this is not the case for mobile applications, as to exchange data with the database in case of a mobile app is not direct, the exchange takes place via a bridge called API.
So to create an app from the same database as the ecommerce website, API developers have to develop a number of APIs.
APIs make it possible for Hyperlocal applications like Zomato, and Swiggy to fetch the location of the customer to deliver the food and for Uber to get the pickup & drop location of the customer just by using the services of tech giant Google.
Now if we are talking about APIs in eCommerce then If you are having an Opencart eCommerce marketplace and want to have marketplace-like features & functionalities on other applications too like on a mobile application or ERP.
So for that, you can go with Opencart Marketplace Web Services API Module which uses REST API by which you can use functions of Opencart Marketplace in other applications like mobile applications and ERP.
It will allow the developer to implement many functionalities of Opencart Marketplace like seller dashboard, seller orders etc to other platforms like Android and iOS.
After implementing the API of Opencart Marketplace, the store owner can manage their store from other applications like from their mobile, POS & through the ERP.
APIs are responsible for creating connectivity & for establishing a communication channel between an eCommerce web store and its native eCommerce mobile application.
APIs perform all the functionalities by exposing some of the program’s internal functions to the outside world in a limited manner which is what makes applications share data with each other without requiring to share all the app code.
With the help of GUI (Graphical User Interface ), it becomes quite easy for people to use the programs.
Just like this with the help of an Application programming interface, it becomes easy for the developers to use certain technologies in building applications.
API works on the abstraction method, i.e. hiding the implementation Opencart API Development | Webkul Marketplace blog details of the programming and exposing the actions and objects which the developer only needs.
The words “web services” mean using online services like internet surfing, but for technical people like developers, it has some different meanings.
Overall we can define web services that tell us how communication is done between two applications or devices over the World Wide Web (WWW).
There are two types of communication methods namely Simple Object Access Protocol or SOAP, and Representational State Transfer or REST.
Let us discuss them one by one.
SOAP is a standard communication protocol system that allows the program running on different operating systems such as ( Linux and Windows ) to communicate using Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and its XML
It uses the XML-based messaging data format that is used by web service-enabled applications to communicate with each other over the web.
Usually, the web environment needs applications to support common messaging formats & data encoding protocols.
SOAP is a standard protocol for encoding text in XML that invoke different functions in other applications.
It is completely language-independent which means it can communicate between two applications developed in different languages.
In SOAP, the server response format or the output format is WSDL i.e the advanced form of XML
But has different levels of programming language support that is, it works absolutely fine between Java & .NET but not between Python & PHP.
SOAP has the ability to use different transport protocols like HTTP, and SMTP over which the applications can transfer data among each other.
REST is an architectural style rather than a protocol of the web services that basically work as a channel of communication between computers working on the internet & the APIs that are backed by this kind of architectural style is called REST API.
Or more concisely we can say, web service APIs that adhere to the REST architectural constraints are RESTful APIs
REST-based APIs are more popular nowadays. It supports HTTP standards, which means it can fetch and manage by URL and return JSON which is easy to render on any interface – web or mobile.
REST APIs allow CRUD (Create, read, update and delete) operations to execute on a server via simple HTTP requests. Because of this, REST is seen as an alternative to the more-complex SOAP API.
All of our native mobile apps and headless development use REST-based APIs. Also not limited to those who are using REST APIs in web/eCommerce development and PIM development as well.
The core concept of REST is the resource ( A resource in REST is similar to an Object in Object Oriented Programming or is like an Entity in a Database ) where a resource can be an image, text file, HTML Page etc.
REST uses various types of representations to represent a resource i.e. Text, JSON, XML. But the most popular were XML and JSON data formats used by the REST.
A document format as a resource dynamically exchanges data between client and server using the request/response pattern implemented in web applications.
One client may ask for the document in XML representation while the other in JSON. Thus, the transfer of a document between the client and server is the main focus of REST.
If you are curious about how to integrate REST API in the Opencart web application.
Yes, we can use both types to create a responsive ecommerce mobile app. Both APIs can perform distinct tasks.
If we are talking about using REST API so it can be deployed for performing functions like browsing through the application, adding products to the wishlist, cart for doing chat among sellers & customers and much more.
And if we are talking about SOAP usage, so we can use it to make payment transactions as authorization and the layers of security are far more complex with SOAP compared to REST API.
GraphQL is a query language for the API. In short, it is a modern way to fetch data from API calls. It is basically called a modern way of consuming APIs because it works on HTTP as REST works.
GraphQL is a query language for APIs and also a server-side runtime environment for executing queries by using a set of rules you define for your data.
With your existing data. The client asks for various data from the GraphQL server via queries.
GraphQL provides a complete and understandable description of the data in your API. A GraphQL query returns data in a specified format usually in form of a JSON string as fetched from the server end.
Gives your clients the power to ask for exactly what they are exactly looking for, and makes it easier to evolve APIs over time.
GraphQL has the concept in mind that a client requests only the desired set of items from the server in a single request.
GraphQL takes up data automatically from the database. And user just needs to define the name of the database from which GraphQL needs to pick up the data (MySQL, Oracle etc.).
Also, there is no need for the user to have knowledge of different databases only he should know how to work with GraphQL to build web applications.
GraphQL basically enables the declarative fetching up of data which helps you to specifically fetch the exact data you need from the server with the help of API.
Instead of fetching multiple data on an API request, GraphQL only exposes the specific fetch result which lets you navigate a graph of related data, or fetch resources directly by their ID.
GraphQL helps your applications to work stable and also speeds up their performance.
But using the REST which assembles all the data in one place requires multiple times to fetch data from the server, which results in slowing down the application and making it unresponsive.
Fetching multiple data on every API call, not only makes the application slow to use but also eats up the data plan of the customer.
In order to take advantage of all offers and buy products from an eCommerce website, one must have to register on the same.
For this, the customer can register on the inbuilt registration feature of the website or can use an API for the same.
And this is one more example where the eCommerce website is using the API in order to make the customer login authentication on the website by using their respective social account.
Facebook’s API allows their own users to post content to their Timelines from third-party mobile applications they’re using. This function has enabled many apps to grow their user database very quickly.
Like Facebook, Twitter has an API that can also be used by third-party mobile applications to identify their users on sign-up and to enable users to post content easily from an app to their Twitter or Facebook account like sharing best offers & exclusive deals from an eCommerce application with friends.
The big tech giant Google is also very popular in providing its APIs for mapping and location-based services.
Some of the mobile applications have been mapped as essential features like Opencart Marketplace Mobile App which is using the API to fetch the seller store location which helps the customer, in turn, to purchase products from the nearby seller.
In short, APIs enable apps to interact with each other. They can enhance the user experience and might even help fuel the popularity of your app.
As we know that API is everywhere & it’s impossible nowadays to build any technology without the use of any API. You can find various examples of APIs which we have integrated with our Add-ons & Mobile applications.
-> We have developed Add-ons like Opencart Social Tab & Opencart Social Login etc which can be easily customized with your Opencart store and uses social network APIs like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google & Twitter.
The Social Login Functionality can be introduced into the Opencart Multivendor Mobile application and also the mentioned Social networking API-based approach.
In order to provide you, with social network feeds on your eCommerce store & give access to log in on the website by using a Social account id.
The Site Search API can help your customers to search for their desired product of a particular brand, and type from the vast array of products & categories. Our Add-on like Opencart Advanced Search uses Rest API in order to help your store customers to search for their desired products in an instant.
For your opencart store, you can use our Payment extensions like Paypal, Stripe, Mercado Pago, Braintree and many more which are using their respective API in order to ensure your site has a fully functional payment processing system.
You can take a look at our all Payment extensions for the Opencart Platform Here.
We also provide one free payment gateway integration with our Opencart Multivendor Mobile Application.
The module’s respective APIs integrate a shipping feature directly to your Opencart store. It automatically fetches rates and calculates, creates shipping labels, and generates tracking numbers.
The Shipping Functionality can come into the Opencart Multivendor Mobile application also, with the help of the shipping gateways API-based approach.
You just need to create accounts on Amazon & eBay get the API details from there and paste them into your opencart website. Here the Amazon & eBay APIs came into effect.
We have developed Add-ons like Opencart ElasticSearch in which the Elasticsearch engine can be easily integrated with your OpenCart web store.
ElasticSearch API helps customers to store, search, and analyze big volumes of data very quickly. It is the fastest search engine that returns the results of the entered query in real-time.
The cart API is an essential eCommerce API that allows sellers to peek into their customers’ shopping carts. These usually include the usage of discounts, coupons, and even B2B-centric features, like invoicing and quote generation.
In order to get more information on how to use cart APIs in Opencart.
In traditional application architectures, the entire components, operations, and functions of an app integrate together which makes it difficult for the performance of the application.
As if one unit of the system faces a bug the entire system will face the consequences.
This is where Headless architecture comes into play, Headless architecture is nothing but a paradigm which states that every component or function of the complex app should process as an individual building unit, and the building unit is called a microService.
Microservice architecture- is an architectural style that strategically structures an application as a collection of small independent services, which can be independently deployable and organized around a business domain.
Read more, to know further regarding the benefits of Headless & Microservices in eCommerce.