I will spend the next few posts explaining what an API is, and why - if you are a print service provider - that you might care and how PressWise customers and third party storefront developers take advantage of it.
So, what does an API 'look like" ? A simple and commonly used example of an API in action is a website that allows users to review local restaurants is able to layer their reviews over maps taken from Google Maps, because Google Maps has an API that facilitates this functionality. Google Maps' API controls what information a third-party site can use and how they can use it.
At SmartSoft ( that is where I work ) we offer an API that enables third parties to access to a PressWise system to inject orders.
PressWise is a browser based workflow system that print services providers use to manage and process their customers jobs. PressWise is a hosted services and was designed as an alternative to purchasing independent modules - or custom development - of web-to-print, production workflow management. Print-specific MIS and mail preparation software.
Here is an example of how the PressWise API "works".
When someone orders print using an online storefront, lets say, to order business cards, like one might do at VistaPrint.com or Mimeo.com - they select the products, ad their custom details, decide how many they need or what type of paper they want to use. They may even add finishing tasks like Coatings or corner rounding. They will them be prompted to enter a method of payment and the address they want the order shipped.
All that data would need to then be transmitted somehow to the PressWise system, and the method ( or protocol) our PressWise API uses is SOAP.
The API then captures the XML stream, process it and enters that as a new order within our PressWise customers system.
My next few posts will go into more detail and show simple examples.
We will be demonstrating our API with Pressero at the upcoming Dscoop event