Commonly Confused Terms and Buzzwords in Product APIs Clarified

16 August 2017 |

product api buzzwords

Buzzwords keep coming up in e-commerce tech space, which is already brimming with them. Buzzwords can irritate and annoy, but the real problem is that they often cause misunderstandings.

Some terms can perplex not only novices in tech but also experienced industry players. So we have decided to clarify most confusing API related terms and buzzwords:

IpaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)

Enterprises increasingly need to get various applications connected to be able to manage them all via a single interface. And IpaaS is what makes it possible to easily connect to a number of platforms/systems/apps. For example, API2Cart is an IpaaS that enable e-commerce software vendors to integrate with multiple shopping carts at once.

Product Attribute & Product Option & Product Variant

Product attribute: Characteristic of a product like type, color, size, etc.

Product option: Value represented by an attribute. For example, “small”, “medium” and “large” can be options for an attribute “size”; “blue” or “white” can be options for an attribute “color”.

Product variant: A concrete product that has a set of attributes and each option of that attribute. For example, product variants are a “medium white dress” or a “small blue dress”. Every product variant usually has a different SKUs, each of these shirts is a variant.

RealTime API

Some people think that Realtime API is an API that returns responses fastly (in milliseconds) or even immediately. Well, it’s not just a “RealTime” API that should provide a response to queries in a short span of time, it is a duty of any self-respecting API. What Realtime API really means is that when you make a request, the API checks the page that you queried and sends back a product information, that is actual at the moment of query.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous API Calls

Synchronous API calls

In short, synchronous API call are those that are processed one after another. It means that you can make a call only after the previous API call is returned. For end users, it usually seems to be a latency or performance lag in your app, that is why asynchronous requests are typically more preferable.

Asynchronous API calls

Asynchronous calls do not wait for a response from the server to proceed with further calls. Asynchronous API calls typically require a “callback” which will be executed once the work is completed.

API2Cart’s API is an asynchronous, RESTful API. It allows to send up to 10 requests simultaneously, which means you don’t have to wait for the API to respond before sending the next query. Thus, our customers can offer a lag-free experience for their end users.

API call quota vs API call rates

API providers usually rely on API call quotas when defining their pricing plan.

Essentially, API call quotas refer to limited number of HTTP pull requests that can be made to the API endpoint. In case you want to be able to make more API calls, you have to upgrade to a higher plan.

Contrarily, API call rates define API bandwidth, which depends on the number of asynchronous calls that can be performed per time span (normally defined in seconds) to the API endpoint. It means that if you’re allowed to make up to 7 requests per second, the API endpoint will take 7 parallel requests every second and process them asynchronously. Thus, there is no need to wait for a response from the API before sending another request.

Ultimately, API quotas and call rates are different tools used by API companies to control server loads and set prices for users. Some of them may need higher API quotas with ability to send a higher volume of requests per second to provide a seamless experience for their end users.

API call rates play much more important role in the overall application performance than API call quotas. Having access to a high bandwidth (higher API call rates) means that application can deal with higher traffic and request loads.

Latency

Latency is one of the main API performance metrics. It is the average time interval between query and response. Well-elaborated APIs have low latencies and can process big volumes of requests, while poorly designed APIs have high latencies.

If you run any of e-commerce software solution and are interested in integrating your solution with multiple shopping carts, you can either contact us or try how API2Cart would work for your business.