APIs: From Unseen to Unavoidable – Unleashing Baader-Meinhof Effect

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Julia Gray 16 August 2023

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Credit: Dave Weatherall


APIs are essential for website functionality and integration, so businesses should prioritise their development.

Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or Frequency Illusion is noticing something more often after learning about it for the first time. For example, you have a conversation with a friend about a new colour of car they like. You say you haven’t seen that colour before, until you’re on a motorway the next day and every second car is this jazzy new colour. Then you head to the supermarket and see three of these colour cars in the car park.

Perhaps after reading this post about APIs you'll start noticing them more frequently, and you’ll be subject to Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Because as you'll read they are used everywhere.

First you need to understand what you’re looking out for. If you’re not familiar with what an API is (Application Programming Interface), it’s likely that you don't know how often you're using them. You're reading this very article on a platform right now that's utilising APIs.

An API allows two applications to talk to each other. They are also a way for applications to access and share data. When we’re talking about data we mean anything from blog posts, weather data, or information from a warehouse about stock levels for an item of clothing.

Most e-commerce sites will be using an API to gain realtime data about their products’ stock levels. Once you click the “add-to-basket” button on a new t-shirt, that triggers an API call to the the warehouse API to obtain and update data about that top. The API will then send back the data to your browser. That’s why you can sometimes add an item to your basket and forget about that item only to go back half an hour later and find that item is out of stock.

Social media websites are a constant stream of API calls. Every Tweet, Instagram post, Facebook message or YouTube post will be calling an API. Once you load a page your browser will make a series of API calls requesting all the data that's relevant to you.

So every time you use an app such as LinkedIn, Instagram or Google Maps, the application is using APIs. Without an API, these applications don't work.

Knowing now that APIs are business-critical and used so frequently it's baffling that for businesses, building an API is a means rather than an end. Businesses should be thinking API first, not API last. If the API doesn’t work as it should, a website won’t function. If you’re a business looking to integrate with another platform and your API isn’t robust enough, it’s going to fail. There's huge potential for financial gain when you build an excellent API. We wrote about how businesses can benefit from putting APIs first in a recent blog post.

So we've covered what an API is and why it’s important to create a good one. But how do you get there without a highly skilled tech team experienced in building mature APIs? If only you had a platform that could make it straightforward to build a mature API. You know what data you need, you know where it lives, you just need that bridge between the two, and you need it to be reliable and well built.

Eject is the platform for building better APIs. It builds your API as you design it. Your technical and non-technical team members can collaborate on an easy-to-use application. You can build an API that's stable and monetisable. If you want to read more, visit the Eject website.

So next time you pick up your phone to use an app, you might think more about how that app's functioning, and you’ll be subject to Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. If you're not careful you'll be seeing APIs everywhere.

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