As the digital asset management sector expands to address more use cases, the ability to connect to various platforms and devices is becoming an increasingly important component for company-wide adoption. This change is causing APIs to be a common topic in DAM conversations and purchase decisions.
But what we’ve found is that, while an API is a necessity for many DAM projects, not many DAM champions actually know what an API is or, more importantly, the functionality that it can bring to their DAM.
This post will arm you with the knowledge you need to understand the basics of APIs and how they can help your organization achieve its goals for DAM.
What is an API?
Let’s start with the basics: what is an API?
API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. It allows a product to talk to another product using open data. Basically, it’s the “messenger” used to communicate to a system what you want it to do and return the correct response.
An API allows developers to take advantage of code already built into a given platform and perform an action without having to re-write existing code. Internal developers expose “endpoints” in their product to allow external developers to connect it to other platforms. They then provide a list of operations that developers can use to perform any given actions and explains the language (script) requirements for the platform.
Put simply, with an API in place, developers don’t need to know the “how” of an action, they just need to know how to connect to it. This significantly reduces the amount of code a developer needs to create, prevents the duplication of data processes and improves consistency across platforms.
For a simplified explanation, watch this awesome video by MuleSoft that explains APIs using a restaurant waiter:
APIs in Day-to-Day Life
As a consumer, you actually use APIs frequently in everyday life. You might use it to:
Book a hotel
When you book a hotel through an online booking site, like Hotels.com, you often start by entering where you want to stay, the dates you want to go and the number of guests you have. The moment you hit “Search”, APIs work to aggregate relevant information from hotels that meets your criteria and return the results to a single, consolidated webpage. It allows you to compare hotels instantly without having to visit each individual site.
Post on social media
One of the most commonly-used APIs can be found in your phone, specifically, when you’re using your camera within an app, like Instagram. When you take a photo or video on Instagram, the app connects to your phone's camera using API calls provided by the phone. The API allows you to instantly post to your stories or feeds, without needing to switch between your camera app and Instagram.
Buy something online
When you make an online purchase, there are often multiple APIs in place to give you the most optimal experience possible. From payment-handling APIs, which create a more secure and streamlined payment experience; to shipping-coordination APIs, which instantly sort processing and delivery with the shipping companies, nearly every online shopping experience is made better thanks to APIs.
How Does It Impact DAM?
Although most digital asset management solutions have an extensive library of out-of-the-box integrations, its near-impossible to instantly integrate with every platform out there. This is where an API becomes an important component of a DAM.
An API allows your developers to connect to the DAM’s endpoints to create custom integrations that connect your assets with existing productivity tools and desktop solutions. It gives you the flexibility to choose your ideal digital asset management vendor, even if they don’t have a required integration.
An API allows you to access a variety of DAM functions from within other platforms, to create a seamless experience for your users. Some common uses for an API include:
User Management: Create new user groups and add, delete or edit your users within other platforms, like your identity and access management solution.
Asset Distribution: Provide easy access to your assets from within other platforms and allow for various actions, like downloading, sharing, versioning and transforming.
Quick Uploading: Transfer new assets to your DAM directly from your desktop or another application, mapping relevant metadata.
Direct Publishing: Create embed links or upload your assets directly into your publishing platforms.
Lightbox Management: Create, list and share your lightboxes from within another platform.
Advanced Search: Find your assets using enterprise-level search capabilities, such as advanced filters and AI-generated tags, within other productivity tools.
Report Creation: Create customized reports based on information tracked within your DAM.
Getting Started with APIs
While this post covers the basics of what an API can do, its capabilities are endless. To learn more about the different functionality an API can provide for DAM, visit our Open API page.