What are API’s and why should you care?  In this article, I will explain what API’s are and why they’re relevant to your business.  API stands for Application Programming Interface.  Every computer program or website on the market is good at solving a particular problem.  For example, Yelp is a comprehensive application that gives food recommendations based on your location.   Uber solves the problem of finding cheap/reliable transportation based on your location.  Google Maps provide you step by step directions to your destination.  As you can see by these examples, every program solves a unique problem and has inherent value.

An API is a machine to machine communication standard.  It’s a way for each application such as Yelp to “talk to” Google Maps in machine form.   Let’s give an example of how an API can be used using Yelp’s platform.  Let’s say Michelle a Yelp user is walking down the streets in San Francisco and decides she wants pizza for dinner.  Michelle takes out her iPhone and types Pizza into the Yelp application, and a plethora of pizza places comes up.  Michelle decides to eat at Little Star Pizza off of Divisadero Street.  As an added feature Yelp might want to give Michelle directions to the restaurant.  To solve this problem, Yelp has two options.  They can either build a mapping system which is not an easy feat or plug into another application such as Google Maps API.  It wouldn’t make sense for Yelp to reinvent the wheel as Google Maps has already perfected this technology.  Instead, Yelp can integrate with Google Maps API providing step by step directions for their user.

API’s are a good technology to understand in the Transportation Industry as more, and more common carriers are adopting API for rating, dispatching, tracking, and image retrieval.  API is a preferred method as it’s considered real-time data. Let’s look at a practical example of API’s in the transportation business.  In the past, the only way to dispatch a load was to call, email or fax the carrier.  An API for dispatching would communicate with the carrier’s server through a TMS and provide a pickup number/response from the carrier’s server.  Electronic dispatching is useful as it’s talking to the carrier’s server in real time, it’s less prone to error, and it save time.

3PL Systems makes a TMS with API’s in place for rating, dispatching, tracking and document retrieval.  Please contact us for further information regarding our offerings at sales@3plsystems.com.

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