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Building Social Web Applications by Gavin Bell

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Chapter 17. Building APIs, Integration, and the Rest of the Web

No man is an island, entire of itself.

John Donne, Meditation XVII

“We need to be on the Web” was the cry of the 1990s. Some smart companies realized there was more to this than choosing a hosting provider and whether to use Microsoft IIS or Apache. For example, Google and Amazon are deeply enmeshed with the Internet, with links to their services and pages on many pages other than their own. Having a website is a good start to engaging with your community, but intentionally limiting a website to just pages consumable by humans misses out on the real potential of the Web. Today, a website is more than a brochure; it is a data repository with multiple interfaces to the content. Facebook and other closed sites have gradually opened up over the past year. For instance, the New York Times has gone from having a registration barrier to having a real-time API for its content. Being merely on the Internet is no longer enough.

“On the Internet” Versus “In the Internet”

So far this book has mainly focused on creating your own application. In this chapter, we will look at how to integrate your application with the other services your company might own and with the rest of the Internet. Much of this additional functionality comes from what are commonly called application programming interfaces. These APIs are the machine-facing interfaces for your application. Other software will depend on them. They can be arguably more important ...

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