What is an API?

Did you know: Flonomics offers an API that can help you stay on top of your people counter data?

You might not realize it, but if you’re even a casual internet consumer, you interact with a ton of APIs on a daily basis. But what is an API, exactly?

To put it simply, an Application-Programming Interface (API) is kind of like a remote control. Specifically, an API is a bit of programming code that enables a piece of software built by one person to control a piece of software built by another person. Still confused? Try this analogy from an Explain Like I’m Five post on Reddit:

“Suppose your [programming code] is a robot and you want your robot to get into a car and drive across the city.

When you drive a car, do you care how it works inside? Do you care if it’s a V6 or V8? That it’s a traditional gas engine, a diesel, or a hybrid? All of those things affect how the car works, but those aren’t the interface.

The interface of a car is the steering wheel, gearshift, and pedals – plus all of the other levers and controls to access all of the car’s other functions.

So if you were hypothetically building a robot to control a car, you don’t have to teach it how an internal combustion engine works. You have to teach it how to accelerate, brake, steer, and shift gears, by working those controls.”

(Source: Can Someone Explain Like I’m Five What an API is?)

But, since most of us are not building car-driving robots, here’s a real-world example: imagine you’re booking a flight on a website like Kayak or Trivago. When you click the search button with one of those outlets, they aren’t physically scouring flight schedules and fare tables to your destination, all in a matter of seconds. Instead, the Kayak website contains a piece of code (the API) that allows them to directly access the schedules and fares from airlines like American, Delta and JetBlue (some airlines have been left off this list intentionally… looking at you United. I said I’d have my revenge someday!). These air carriers have all provided Kayak with access to their APIs, thus allowing fare trackers to pull flight details and help you find the best deal.

And this type of integration, where one website is able to pull information from another website or application, is used by more than just travel sites. If you use a social media manager tool like Sprout Social or a service like Shopify to manage inventory, you’re already relying on APIs to accomplish some of your day-to-day business tasks.

So what does this have to do with my people counter data?

We’re glad you asked! Similar to how Kayak uses APIs to gather flight schedules, Flonomics provides an API that allows our clients to pull their people counter data into website widgets, or directly into their databases for in-house analytics teams.

Over the years, we’ve also had clients who prefer to store their revenue data on our secure dashboard. For these clients, we offer and assist with an inbound API, which works in the opposite direction of the previous examples in this post.

For those who prefer this option, our staff can build a custom application into the Flonomics dashboard that can pull in people counter, POS, staffing and web data into one place to provide a comprehensive view of all their business operations. Think of it like a brick-and-mortar mission control.

Want to learn more about Flonomics API? Contact us!

The fine print, nerdy tech details: for both Flonomics Outbound and Inbound APIs, the call is made with HTTPS GET and the resulting data is provided in XML. For our Inbound API, to ensure your data is secure the call requires a 32 bit security key to send and retrieve any data.

This post is also available in: Spanish