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APIs 101: A Free Course by Zapier

Brian Cooksey
Brian Cooksey / February 5, 2014

The following is an excerpt from our free API course, which kicks off today with the first of eight chapters. The course is for technical and non-technical folks alike, and whether or not you go on to build an API yourself, we hope you'll fall in love with them just as we have at Zapier.

What An API Is and Why It's Valuable

Websites are designed to cater to people’s strengths. Humans have an incredible ability to take visual information, combine it with our experiences to derive meaning, and then act on that meaning. It’s why you can look at a form on a website and know that the little box with the phrase “First Name” above it means you are supposed to type in the word you use to informally identify yourself.

Yet, what happens when you face a very time-intensive task, like copying the contact info for a thousand customers from one site to another? You would love to delegate this work to a computer so it can be done quickly and accurately. Unfortunately, the characteristics that make websites optimal for humans make them difficult for computers to use.

The solution is an API. An API is the tool that makes a website's data digestible for a computer. Through it, a computer can view and edit data …

Read All of Chapter 1

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