What Are Composable APIs?

John West - Senior Customer Advocate

19 Sep 2022

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Check out this brief overview of What is an API? 

What Are APIs? 
API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. APIs define how software applications communicate with other applications. The APIs of a software system expose its features as contracts in a way that other applications can invoke. APIs allow code running on one program to communicate with other computing systems, such as to exchange data or invoke functionality. For example, code for a web page could use the API of a commerce system to determine the available quantity before showing a product to the visitor or placing an order for that product.   

You can think of APIs as intermediaries between applications used to transfer data and instructions between two systems. APIs enable companies to safely expose their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, customers, business partners, internal departments within their organization, and the public at large. 

Historically, APIs were platform-specific and required the use of specific programming languages. For example, developers would have to use the programming language chosen by the software vendor to extend a word processor with custom functionality. In the context of modern, composable, service-oriented systems such as headless CMS, APIs are typically HTTPS endpoints that exchange data as JSON. In other words, anything with an internet connection and required access rights can invoke composable APIs, and developers can use any programming language that can process JSON. 

 What Are the Types of APIs?  

 There are four general classifications of composable APIs: open, partner, internal and composite.  

  1. Open APIs, also called public APIs, grant access to any system with an Internet connection. For example, an organization may choose to expose its entire product catalog as an open API for use by any consuming application without restrictions.  
  2. Partner APIs are typically available only to the business partners of an organization. Unlike open APIs, partner APIs are not available publicly. Partner APIs typically require external applications to authenticate before they can access features of the system. Partner APIs may be a subset of a system’s internal APIs that expose specific functionality to business partners. As an example of a partner API, clients of a consultancy such as Konabos could provide access to specific APIs that allow authenticated systems run by Konabos to achieve required functionality, without exposing their entire API to Konabos or any part of that APIs to the public. 
  3. Internal APIs are the opposite of open APIs, intended for use by systems running with an organization, provide access to all the firm’s backend information and features. An example of this type of API would be organization developers created a customer information API to quickly access a customer’s name, contact info and history of interactions.  
  4. Composite APIs consolidate calls to multiple other APIs into a single API call. Composite APIs provide convenience for developers by reducing the number of API calls and can help in managing complex sequences of API calls. Internal, partner, and public APIs can include composite APIs, which can wrap APIs calls to multiple systems.  

APIs in Composable Systems  

APIs are a fundamental component of all composable systems. APIs allow customer solutions to orchestrate the behaviour of the applications with which they interact.  

Headless content management systems are a fundamental component of many composable solutions. The most common use of a content management system is to house data to populate a website. 

Headless content management systems typically provide at least two sets of APIs: a content management API for the CMS and customer applications to manipulate data and a content delivery API for applications that consume that data. The content delivery APIs typically include a GraphQL API for querying published data in the CMS.  

Truly headless CMSs do not provide components for building websites, though many offer Software Development Kits (SDKs) that simplify accessing their APIs from a variety of programming languages. Static site builders use content delivery APIs to retrieve content for deployment to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). JavaScript applications running in the browser access content delivery APIs to add data to rendered pages at runtime. 

How Can Konabos Composable Coaching Help Your Organization?  

Headless and composable applications represent a paradigm shift in software architecture. While these changes allow organizations to capitalize on cost-efficiencies of infrastructure clouds including SaaS platforms, many teams are under cost, competitive, and other pressures around existing solutions, preventing them from fully committing to composable solutions. Many do not have the time or resources to upskill and hire developers with relevant experience. Konabos can assist with these challenges by coaching teams towards this goal, building both internal capabilities and confidence. Contact us today and initiate a conversation towards progress.  

Whether you're moving to a new stack or are looking to upskill your team's capabilities with the latest learnings and best practices, we'd be glad to work with you to create a program that goes beyond mere training courses.

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Caricature of John West

John West

I’ve served as CTO of Sitecore, founded Sitecore USA in 2004 and was there as we led the company to an investment round of over a billion dollars in 2016. I’ve also been blessed to be at the forefront of our space’s transition towards headless and composable technologies. I’m incredibly grateful for my success, but my proudest moments are when I hear from hundreds of customers and digital professionals who have benefited from the hard-won lessons I’ve shared over the years. 

Like so many of the team at Konabos, I am a Sitecore MVP (the world’s only lifetime MVP, a humbling distinction that recognizes our commitment to making others better). Together, we’ve transitioned from a single-vendor monolithic landscape to the new, challenging, composable DXP paradigm that’s now upon us all. The DXP space keeps changing, but one thing remains constant: great architecture always wins the value battle in the long run, and people always matter. 

I’ve learnt a lot during my journey and look forward to helping you and multiplying my impact as Chief Customer Advocate at Konabos as we all “Keep Exploring” together.  

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