Connect your SQL database app to the web with Zazler
We had the opportunity to “email” interview Rudolf Osman, CEO of Zazler, to get his insights on the challenges facing developers when rolling out their own APIs, and the trend of APIs in general.
Zazler is a backend for web and mobile apps that saves developers from having to write server-side code. It works as a server facilitating database queries between the application’s frontend and its database.
Q: What are the circumstances where developers need to create their own API?
With web APIs the circumstances can vary a lot depending on the purpose of the API. We have experience in retail and logistics sectors where information needs to be exchanged between a warehouse management system and an online store. An API could also be required for developing mobile apps, especially native apps where you cannot do without an API. These examples are not exhaustive – a good API should support application interactions as flexibly as possible to support different scenarios.
Q: What are the challenges facing developers now when rolling their own API?
It’s pretty difficult to figure out the different use cases for an API. The main question is how to design an API to be easy to use on the one hand and general-purpose on the other. This has a lot to do with the data structure and how to present it wisely. Let’s assume you have 1000 users of your API – making a small adjustment that is relevant for 100 customers can easily make the experience much more difficult for the remaining 900. So the biggest challenge is deciding upon the design of an API and providing good developer experience.
Q: How does Zazler address these challenges?
Zazler abstracts the data layer of an API so that data is shared in tables. Thus an API user is provided with a database interface to create custom table queries from the client-side (the syntax is described in Zazler’s documentation site: http://docs.zazler.com). This reduces the developers’ burden of both designing and maintaining APIs as these activities are ‘outsourced’ to API users.
Zazler works as a separate web server configurable with a SQL database, whereafter a URL address is given that is used to make queries to tables. Permissions to specific fields and authentication settings can also be configured separately. You can read more about Zazler’s ‘nuts and bolts’ in our recent blog post: “Democratizing Web APIs” (http://www.zazler.com/?p=151).
Q: In your context, where do you see the trend of APIs going?
APIs supporting real-time streaming of data is an important trend currently. We are also strong believers in linked data, therefore meta-level APIs that will facilitate flexible machine-to-machine communications are definitely something to look forward to. But altogether APIs will become more flexible and exchanging data with a server the way the user wants it will become a must. We like to describe the tools with this paradigm as “responsive data frameworks”. Zazler is a responsive data framework.