API, the magic glue of business innovation

API, the magic glue of business innovation

November 24, 2021

Simon Ručigaj
digitalization advisor and communication manager


The digitalization of global trade is picking up speed at an unprecedented pace. New solutions, platforms, and digital marketplaces are springing up everywhere. Manufacturers, exporters, importers, trading companies, and all other entities involved in the process need to learn how to use all the new tools, applications, and processes that differ from what they are used to, and find new ways to utilize the data stored in them. 

As new technologies emerge, there is a clear trend of seeing lots of new platforms fighting for market share to become the tools in global trade, to provide better opportunities for companies and organizations. Each of these platforms might have its own user interface, approach to getting things done, a different method of use – something that users, administrative workers, marketers, and managers need to learn to use efficiently.

Large corporations and organizations have long been using software solutions, tailored to their needs. They are used to tightly integrating them together, and being able to share their data and features between the applications and databases. This allows them to optimize their work processes, reduce time needed to perform tasks, improve data quality, and ensure internal and external compliance. Besides, they can streamline the workload for their workforce and find new opportunities – and grow their business potential. 

UI, API, or both?

So, what is the fastest way for companies to introduce a new, complex application or platform into the market? They can generally opt for one of two options. 

A user interface for use by a human

The easiest way to innovate in a corporate business process is to start using the application manually through its own user interface (UI) – a system of screens, pages, forms, and other graphic elements. A user interface basically enables interaction between a user and an application. 

Basic training is needed, but with the CargoX Platform this is a short and simple task. Users need to learn how to use the new application from scratch, and that the proper way to use it might be slightly different from what they are familiar with. User guidance is usually provided in the form of a User Manual, or through specific application training.

Application programming interface (API) for data exchange between systems

The other way to introduce a new application into a business system is to integrate it into the existing workflows and software. This includes making it possible for the application to automatically connect with other existing solutions that the company already uses. 

This functionality is facilitated by the API – an Application Programming Interface. It functions as a connector in a software solution that provides simple communication between the new application and an existing system. The new application can be hosted in the same business environment, or in another business information system altogether, and by connecting with each other these applications create synergies. 

How does an API work

An API is generally used by an application, which calls specific functions in the API through a network connection and then receives returned data. 

An API is usually structured and divided into several sections. These sections can be used as separate tools or services that can be programmed to interact with another application. When a programmer or an application creates a connection with a particular section, it is referred to as performing a call to that section of the API. These calls are also known as subroutines, methods, requests, or endpoints. 

Sometimes, the API is public and anybody can use them and call specific functions. But more often, they are secured to only provide data service to authorized users or applications – and they need to be set up during a process called API integration. This process can include planning specific workflows in the company, planning how business information is captured, stored, retrieved, controlled, and managed, and planning capacities for different parts of software solutions that form the corporate IT environment. 

The description of available data calls, what the format of returned data is, and specific parameters are usually documented in an API Reference document. This is also a useful way to provide the software features to the user, while at the same time hiding internal details of how a system works.

In the era of internet applications and platforms, an API is usually accessible through web protocols, but other API integration methods for specific software architectures are also possible.

API documentation

Integrating the application’s features into an existing and operational environment through an API is performed by skilled IT engineers. 

For that purpose, API reference documentation is used, which is provided by the application provider. The API reference documentation usually contains quick set-up documents, typical usage scenarios, code snippets, performance discussions, contracts, references on how to structure calls for the basic tasks, and a complete reference document with all the calls, classes, methods, data formats, and parameters. 

CargoX Platform API developer’s reference 

The CargoX Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) fully supports API integration with third-party applications. In fact, 100% of all platform’s functions are provided through API calls, and everything is well documented. 

Any company with skilled engineers can start their own CargoX Platform integration immediately – and it can also be completed fairly quickly, at minimum cost, and without any overtly complex procedures. 

The complete CargoX Platform developer documentation is accessible at https://developer.cargox.digital/ 

Here you will find:

  • Integration scenarios

  • Authorization and authentication details

  • API v3 (latest) reference

  • How to add files from external sources to the CargoX Platform

  • How to seamlessly log in users

  • Webhooks

  • How to automatically create third-party client applications

  • Examples

  • Definitions of terms

Youredi, the key integration partner

For SMEs that wish to integrate CargoX Platform functionality into their business IT systems, but lack in-house integration engineers, there is an alternative.

Youredi has been developing integration services for major global markets for the past decade. From building an integration expert team to managing customer projects to building a cloud-based iPaaS to automate integrations, Youredi has covered it all – and in June 2021 they partnered with CargoX. 

They are a leading provider of fully managed data integration services and solutions for logistics and the global supply chain. Through the partnership calls, Youredi strives to provide smooth data integration for all those joining the platform. 

More information about CargoX Platform integration through Youredi can be found at Youredi Rapids eBOL connectivity.