Automation is a boon of the digital age. Since its introduction, it has helped productivity, profit, and usability soar greatly, saving time and money wherever it’s implemented. Old requirements that required hours or days of manual work before now take seconds to finish thanks to automating them through APIs. Furthermore, automation significantly reduces the risk of human errors as well as the number of people required for a task.
A common example is how much easier payments have become with automation. Recently, there have been more payment options for consumers, including card terminals and, more importantly, digital/electronic wallets. They allow consumers to have minimal contact with cashiers while taking way less time to finish.
Software development is no stranger to automation tools. As technology grows, requirements get more complicated and numerous. Thus, expert developers and businesses found ways to automate coding tasks and make development easier through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). These are tools that allow communication between software. They help developers perform normally difficult tasks, letting them use pre-built functions and libraries. This reduces coding effort and keeps developers focused on the core features of their software.
In this article, we will be checking some APIs for automating development tasks while answering how they automate these tasks.
Table of Contents
What can APIs automate?
1. File Ingestion
One of the essential features of almost every modern website or application is file uploading. This is because in recent years, the need for sharing files of all types has greatly increased. In social media, for example, people need to upload mostly images and other media files for personal or business use. Similarly, online productivity tools allow their users to conveniently share files among co-workers. It’s no wonder that you’re likely to encounter a file upload tool at some point of every day.
File ingestion involves the transfer, storage, processing, and accessing/sharing of files. This covers tasks like file transformations (image editing, file conversion, etc.), file security, and even AI-based tasks. Because of the high demand for seamless file uploads, businesses and developers need to integrate some kind of file upload solution that can automate file ingestion tasks. Hence, file ingestion experts developed APIs for processing files.
A file ingestion API automates file processing by letting developers define tasks and connect them with conditional logic. This leads to easier and much shorter file processing when developing complex applications. With a file ingestion API, you would only need to configure an ingestion process once and use or reconfigure it as many times as needed. Some of the best automation tasks that these APIs provide are:
- Image resizing, cropping/smart cropping, rotating, flipping, and watermarking
- Image enhancement (colour correction and other operations to improve image quality)
- Adding borders, effects, and filters to images
- Facial recognition features (detect, crop, pixelate, or blur faces)
- File conversion (image to PDF, images to GIF, etc.)
- Video and audio transcoding
Without an API that automates these file ingestion tasks, you would have to write plenty of code. That leads to more development time compared to simply configuring how the tasks should be handled. If you’re interested in learning more about automating file ingestion tasks with an API, read this comprehensive documentation on a file ingestion API.
2. Software Testing
Software testing, as an integral part of the software development lifecycle, is something that must be done as accurately and as much as possible. Without proper software testing procedures, app-breaking bugs would be free to hinder an application’s functionality. This in turn could result in frustration and a loss of interest.
Sure, it can be done by humans, but how much repetitive testing would it take them to start making inaccuracies? Probably less than we’d like or expect. That’s why automated testing emerged. Like its name suggests, it involves configuring a program to perform test runs, generate results and analyses, and more. Moreover, developers of testing automation tools make and maintain APIs to make integration and usage easier.
Need to run plenty of tests that humans physically can’t? Need to stay accurate across all tests? Need to do everything quickly? Then you should use an automated testing API. Keep in mind, however, that an automated tester is only as good as you configure it to be.
Another important component of most applications is the ability to search for cities, countries, currencies, and other geographic information. For instance, in most modern apps, users would only need to select a country/city from a dropdown list instead of typing in the location. This leads to more data consistency and a better user experience. Normally, developers would have to manually fill in database tables with geographic data, which would then be displayed in a dropdown list. With the sheer number of countries, cities, and other geographic data, this would be a tough task. Fortunately, there is a better way.
By using Geography APIs, you can skip this daunting task and go straight to developing your app’s core features. A Geography API automates getting geographic information by providing access to a searchable database that’s continually updated and maintained. This helps development teams stay focused on the more important coding tasks while providing a quick way to get geographic data for users.
4. Email validation
Nowadays, with the increasing number of email addresses that no longer exist or are fake, it is vital to have reliable email validation in place. Without one, you could waste time and resources by sending emails to non-existent or fake addresses. Furthermore, it could lead to exploits and easily allow the creation of multiple accounts for people to misuse or abuse. More importantly, validating emails keeps you connected with your clients and prospects. So, yes, it’s always better to have email validation within your app. But is there an easy way to do this? The answer is yes, using, you guessed it – automation.
Email validation and verification can be automated with an API. Such an API lets you know whether an email address is reachable or not. To do this, email verification APIs use a combination of regex and DNS (Domain Name System) validation followed by connecting to an address’ SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) without sending an actual email. By avoiding the use of only historical data as a basis for validity, the best of these APIs ensure that checking email addresses will be as accurate as possible.
Whenever you need users to input an email address, be sure to validate it. And if you’ll be validating it, know that it’s so much easier and better to automate it with an email validation and verification API.
Reviewing and rewriting articles can be tedious. Sure, reading a few of them in one business day could be easy. But what if you need to have dozens or even hundreds of articles, each having thousands of words, to review and improve? It would be physically tiring, leading to even more errors. You would have to check every sentence for errors, plagiarism, or just plain quality. Afterwards, you’ll have to rewrite sentences in a way that improves them without losing their meaning. These issues persist everywhere you need to write and review, including blogs, tutorials, or internal documentation. And with this, software companies and developers created paraphrasing APIs.
A paraphrasing API lets developers implement paraphrasing in their apps automatically, removing plenty of effort from both developers and users. It’s capable of adequately rewording sentences to remove errors while keeping the content original and coherent. This helps the quality of users’ writing while being search engine-friendly as well. With a paraphrasing API, you would only need to make a request with your API key and content, which would return the reworded content.
When should you automate tasks with APIs?
Before you start automating your tasks, you need to consider the following factors:
- A better understanding of the manual process – You should automate a task if you already know how to accomplish it manually. Having this knowledge would give you better insight and mastery over the API.
- Upgrading a current system – If your system is in dire need of an upgrade and needs to boost its performance or enhance the user experience, then you should automate some tasks. Automation saves time on all sides and can make users of your app more likely to use it again.
- Difficulty in development – Should you find some features of your app too difficult to implement, you can rely on automation. As we’ve seen earlier, opting for APIs lets you skip the tough parts of development.
In this article, we looked at some popular APIs for automating development tasks. Automation has become an essential part of development, as it simplifies usually complicated tasks while giving users a better time. We’ve also seen the basics of how they work. When integrating APIs, it is necessary to assess what problems they can solve, how they automate tasks, and how you can customize them to your needs.
It also greatly helps to stay updated on the APIs for your use cases. You should make sure that you’ll be able to rely on your chosen APIs for a long time, and that they’ll be well maintained. A great API should also have proper documentation and support that can answer your questions.
Automation, when used correctly and with the right information, leads to efficiency and growth. Thus, studying the tools that automate development tasks would be the first step towards making your ideal application.