Perhaps you have been hearing the term API and wondered what it meant. API stands for Application Programming Interface and “is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software and applications.” Now in English it means they are used to pass information between two parties quickly and efficiently. In transportation, trucking API’s can be used for several things.
For example, perhaps you have a customer that wants to get rate quotes from you. Currently they may phone your customer support department and have someone e-mail or fax back the rate quotes. With an API, however, their computer system accesses an API on your computer system and pulls the rate quotes automatically. This saves time and allows for a greater volume of business from that customer.
Many companies are starting to use API’s. When you check the status of an order on Amazon to view the shipment tracking information, Amazon connects to an API provided by UPS or other carrier to retrieve the tracking details, which they then format and display on their web page.
Shipment tracking is a very common API. You can also get credit information from TransCredit via an API. Comdata, TransCore and PostEverywhere are a few others that provide API access to their information.
In fact, most web applications have API interfaces to them now. For example, QuickBooks Online provides API’s so that companies can develop interfaces into their accounting application. Other popular web applications that use API’s include Google Maps, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Salesforce.com, eBay, Amazon and the list goes on and on.
EDI – Electronic Data Interchange – can be thought of as an early form of an API in that it allowed two computer systems to communicate with each other through a common set of file formats. Modern API’s use web services instead to transfer information. Companies in the market now like Project 44 aim to re-implement EDI through web service API’s. Time will tell if API’s can eliminate EDI. They promise an easier, less costly setup and near instantaneous transfer of order, shipment, and billing information between systems.
Over the last 16 years, more and more companies have adopted API’s. Many software vendors have embraced trucking API’s in order to keep up with the times. Make sure your software application is keeping up and has API’s available for you and your customers when needed.